Guardians ad Litem in Colorado Probate

Sometimes, a probate proceeding in Colorado will involve a guardian ad litem. When a probate court hears a case that involves a minor, or an adult who is incapacitated or allegedly incapacitated, it can appoint a guardian ad litem to serve during the proceeding. Here’s what you should know about the guardian ad litem in Colorado.

Probate Proceedings

Many, if not most, probate proceedings in Colorado won’t require the services of a guardian ad litem. Probate courts hear specific types of cases that don’t always involve an incapacitated person or a minor. However, when the probate court does hear such a case, it might appoint a guardian ad litem to protect the interests of that incapacitated person. The guardian ad litem will serve as the incapacitated person’s advocate.

Advocacy and Best Interests

You can best understand the guardian ad litem in light of an example. Let’s say that your mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. You believe that your mother needs a legal guardian who can make decisions on her behalf because she is no longer capable of doing so. Unfortunately, you and your siblings are unable to come to an agreement about who that guardian should be. So, you take your case to Colorado probate court and ask the courts to name a guardian for your mother.

When you and your siblings go to court, each of you will present your case. Each of the siblings might try to convince the court that they are the best person to serve in the role of guardian. Because your mother is incapacitated, she won’t be able to tell the court what she thinks.

This is where the guardian ad litem comes in. Though the guardian ad litem is not capable of telling the court what your mother thinks, he or she will be able to represent your mother’s interests. In other words, the guardian ad litem will advocate on behalf of your mother’s best interests, where you and your siblings will advocate on behalf of your interests.

Guardians and the Guardian ad litem

Though the two positions sounds similar, a guardian ad litem is not the same thing as a guardian. When the courts names a guardian, it gives that person the right to make decisions on behalf of the incapacitated person, known as a ward. The guardian will, for example, be able to make day-to-day decisions about what the ward should eat, where the ward should live, and what kinds of health care the ward should receive.

The guardian ad litem, on the other hand, is a temporary position. The guardian ad litem only serves for the duration of the probate proceeding, and has no more responsibilities once the court makes a ruling.

For more information on this subject, contact our office.

Author Bio

Catherine Hammond is the CEO and founder of Hammond Law Group, a Colorado-based estate planning law firm she founded in 2005. With a strong focus on protecting families from the legal consequences of disability and death, she creates comprehensive estate plans that minimize taxes, costs, and government interference.

A native of Denver, Catherine completed her undergraduate studies at Coe College in Iowa, and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver College of Law in 1993, concentrating on estate planning, tax, and mediation. Catherine is a member of various professional organizations, including WealthCounsel, ElderCounsel, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Colorado Springs Estate Planning Council, and the Purposeful Planning Institute. Beyond her legal expertise, Catherine provides transformational coaching to support clients and their families through life transitions.

LinkedIn | State Bar Association | Avvo | Google