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Sunday, August 1, 2010

How Does A Guardian Get Paid?

Anyone who is appointed by the Court to be guardian for an Incapacitated Person (IP) can be paid as long as the Court approves. The guardian [family guardian or professional guardian] needs to make sure that the ability to be paid is in the Order of Guardianship. If the provision for payment is not in the Order of Guardianship, the guardian can petition the Court for an order specifying payment.

Types of Payment:

Private Pay: An IP who has assets [savings and/or investments] would be expected to pay with the client assets. The Court may approve an hourly fee and/or a monthly fee. Some counties require a budget be submitted to pre-approval. It can be very difficult to guess how much time you as the guardian will put in at the time of appointment. The guardian can expect that the first 3-6 months would require much more time and that the required time would drop off after that. If the guardian gets approval for a budgeted amount and then realizes that much more time is required, the guardian can petition the Court to approve an amended budget.

Medicaid [Welfare]: For IPs who are on Medicaid, the State of Washington allows a base rate flat fee of $175.00 per month payment for a guardian. I have found that most of the time this is adequate, especially if the IP lives in a facility. Sometimes an IP will require more time. The guardian can provide documentation at the reporting period of the addition amount of time and request the Court approve the additional amount. The wording has to be specific to how the law is written. The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) will need to be notified within their required period [usually 20-days] and they can send an attorney to contest the additional fees. If the Judge approves the fees, DSHS is obligated to adjust the participation to pay the guardian.

Public Guardianship Program: This program is for those who are not on Medicaid but are indigent or very low income. In Washinton State, the Program pays the professional guardians who are contracted to be a part of the program a monthly flat fee.

Pro Bono: A guardian who agrees to accept a client who does not fit into any of the above categories would need to be willing to provide the service for free. Those who are professional guardians are encouraged to accept some Pro Bono guardianships but it is often difficult to find a professional guardian willing to take a guardianship without getting paid. Being a professional guardian is a business just like any other business and it is necessary to limit the amount of pro bono cases or the business as a whole will suffer. Sometimes a professional guardian will agree to take a client pro bono but is able to find assets later on. The guardian can then return to court to request an order allowing payment.

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