You’ve filed a probate petition and are ready to probate an estate, but then the judge assigns a guardian ad litem to your case. What does this mean? Atlanta, Georgia estate planning and probate attorney Sarah Siedentopf explains what a guardian ad litem is, and the role he or she plays in your probate case.
TRANSCRIPT: Hi, I’m Sarah Siedentopf. I’m an estate planning and probate attorney in Atlanta, Georgia. So you’ve filed a probate petition, and you’re pretty proud of yourself because you’ve figured it out all on your own. And you are ready to rock and roll, but the judge ordered a guardian ad litem. What is a guardian ad litem? Why is a guardian ad litem? What does this mean? The guardian ad litem is a neutral observer for the court. What it means is someone involved in the process is either a minor or has diminished mental capacity. If one of the heirs is a minor, a guardian ad litem will be appointed. If there is a fear that there is diminished mental capacity, either for an elder or just for any reason at all, a guardian ad litem will be appointed to look into the situation. We generally assume that adults can take care of themselves and can raise their hands and kick up a fuss if they don’t think they’re being treated fairly. But minors and those with a diminished mental capacity are at an increased risk of being taken advantage of. The guardian ad litem takes a look at the situation and makes sure that the administrator of the estate is in a position to be fair to those people. Then, the guardian ad litem issues a report to the court saying yay or nay. The court doesn’t have to follow the recommendation of the guardian ad litem, but it almost always will, because that’s the whole point. So, if a guardian ad litem has been appointed in your probate case, it is because there is a minor or someone with diminished mental capacity involved in the process. It’s often not a big deal, but if you have further questions, I’d love to hear from you. Thanks.
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