Attorney’s fees in a Virginia guardianship petition.
By: Ryan C. Young, Esq.
Who pays attorney’s fees in a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding in Virginia?
This is a question I get often from potential clients (“Petitioner”) who are considering bringing a guardianship or conservatorship petition because of a loved one’s incapacity. In this article, the allegedly incapacitated person is referred to as the “Respondent.” Often times, the Petitioner might have limited funds themselves. Fortunately, the Virginia Code specifically addresses this point. See Va. Code § 64.2-2008
The Petitioner in a Guardianship Petition is responsible for paying filing fees and costs at the outset of the suit.
Under the Virginia Code, the Petitioner is responsible for paying the filing fee and costs of bringing the Guardhianship/Conservatorship Petition. One example of “costs” would be payment of doctor’s expenses if a medical, neurological or psychological evaluation of the Respondent is necessary. In this instance, the Petitioner would have to front these costs. Of course, if the Respondent has insurance, the cost could be offset. The cost of filing fees is nominal.
Petitioner may be reimbursed for attorney’s fees and costs.
Payment of attorney’s fees in guardianship proceedings can be contentious. Therefore, many attorneys request that the Petitioner deposit funds with them upfront. However, under the Virginia Code, the Petitioner may be reimbursed at the end of litigation. This is true even if the Petitioner is never appointed or the petition is ultimately unsuccessful. The Court may order the Respondent to bear the costs and attorney’s fees if the Court determines that the petition was brought in good faith and for the benefit of the Respondent.
There is the possibility that the Commonwealth might pay for the costs of bringing a petition. First, the Court would have to find that the incapacitated person is indigent. If this is a concern you have, address it with either the guardian ad litem or your attorney.
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