HOW MUCH DOES A GUARDIANSHIP COST IN OREGON?
By Stan Butterfield
The short answer to that question is, it depends. The particular facts of a guardianship case can make significant differences in what the price for getting a guardian appointed will be.
The first costs to be considered are filing fees. These are the fees the court requires to file this kind of case. A case where you are asking the court only to appoint a guardian has a filing fee of $111.00. However, if you are asking the court to appoint someone to have both a guardian and a conservator, the filing fee is more expensive. To learn more about the differences between a guardian and conservator and why it may be necessary to appoint someone to be both, click here. The filing fee for a conservatorship is determined by a sliding scale based on the amount of money and property the person you are trying to protect owns. The courts update these fees every year, but as of 2015, it has been my experience that most people in Oregon that need a guardian and conservator will pay $531.00 as a filing fee to start the case. The one good thing about fees in a case where you are trying to have both a guardian and conservator appointed is, you only pay the higher of the two fees, not both filing fees.
The law also requires that all of the court papers used to start the case be personally served on the person who you believe needs protection; they can’t just be mailed. So, the company that serves the papers must also be paid, that usually runs $100.00 or less.
In most cases, the court will also appoint a “court visitor” to investigate the case to see if the person you are trying to protect really needs a guardian and/or conservator to make decisions for them. The fees for the court visitor, at least in the counties where I practice, Polk, Marion, Yamhill, and Linn counties, usually run around $400.00 to $500.00. These court visitor fees can cost even more if there are complications. In the Portland metro area, some of the counties use a set price for the court visitor.
The attorney fees vary in these matters depending on how complicated the case becomes. One of the most common things that can make a guardianship or conservatorship case more expensive is if the person to be protected objects to the court. If there is an objection the court is obligated to hold a hearing and this takes more time for the attorney involved. On the average though, in the Mid-Willamette Valley where I practice, the fees are between $3,500.00 and $4,500.00.
Who pays for a guardianship?
Again, it depends. Most lawyers will ask for a retainer to at least cover the actual court costs discussed above and many attorneys will also ask for a retainer covering their expected fees as well. So, your up front costs can be considerable. The law does allow you to be reimbursed for the money you have spent, out of the funds of the person being protected. The court does approve this reimbursement in most cases, however, if the court believes that the case should not have been filed in the first place, they may deny reimbursement. This is why it is so important to meet with a lawyer and thoroughly discuss the facts of why you believe a person needs protection. If the lawyer knows all of the facts he will be able to tell you if the case has merit. It is vital not to withhold information or exaggerate how bad things are with the person you wish to protect. These kinds of things can come back to bite you when it comes to getting a guardian and/or conservator appointed, as well as the reimbursement of your expenses.
If you believe that the Stan Butterfield law firm could help you with a guardianship case, give him a call—(503) 623-2427.