Sunday, February 17, 2013

Appellate Division Decides Not To Decide Whether Guardian Can Be Held Personally Liable For Fees Of Court-Appointed Counsel For The Ward

In Matter of Rizzo, the ward/son of an adjudicated incapacitated person appealed from a Chancery Division, Probate Part, Bergen County order that had made the ward contingently liable for the legal fees incurred by the court-appointed counsel for the incapacitated person during the guardianship proceedings. The father/ward had no liquid assets; his only asset was the equity in his home (where he and his son resided); his only income was Social Security.

During the course of the guardianship, there had been questions as to the son’s actions as the father’s agent under a power of attorney, but the chancery court ultimately had made no finding of wrongdoing by the son. However, it entered an order approving the court-appointed counsel’s fees, and then ordered that the ward/son would be personally liable for those fees if the incapacitated person’s estate was insufficient to satisfy that fee. The lower court had relied upon R. 4:86-4, which states that “The compensation of … appointed counsel … may be fixed by the court to be paid out of the estate of the alleged incapacitated person or in such other manner as the court shall direct.” (Emphasis supplied).

The ward/son appealed the order imposing personal liability on him for the court-appointed attorney’s fees. However, during the pendency of the appeal, the father died, leaving equity in the home from which the attorney’s fees could be satisfied. Consequently, the Appellate Division dismissed the appeal as moot, thereby effectively leaving the Chancery Division order undisturbed.

Appellate Division Decides Not To Decide Whether Guardian Can Be Held Personally Liable For Fees Of Court-Appointed Counsel For The Ward

See Also:
Read: In the Matter of Fred Rizzo...


Thelma said...

This case smells!

The Durable Power of Attorney was executed in 2007; the state sought guardianship and revocation in 2011.
If the son had a Durable PoA, why was he appointed guardian? Was there a challenge to the PoA or a hearing on that issue?

Looks to me like it was a setup to grab fees from the son (in his new role as Guardian), which they could not do if he had continued operating under the Durable PoA until his father's death.

StandUp said...

Because the man died, they judge just turned over the financial corpse of the ward to the lawyers?

stewart said...

what does it say about the peculiar court system of new jersey where the first letters in its name is CHANCE?

Luis said...

If the son had a Durable Power of Attorney there was no need for a guardianship!

stop guardian abuse said...

Durable Power of Attorney and/or Advanced Directives mean nothing to the probate courts. They can and will be revoked in minutes

Anonymous said...

This gives warning that the volunteers who will monitor guardianships will go after family for fees.

I have a power of attorney and healthcare proxy and I am now the guardian. The guardianship is illegal the person has too much capacity for a guardianship