What You Should Know About Fees in an Ohio Guardianship
Assuming guardianship of an adult's finances can require significant work on the part of a guardian, and guardians are entitled to be compensated for their work on behalf of their ward's estate. The Rules of Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio, specifically Sup.R. 73(A), dictate that fees in an Ohio Guardianship, including compensation for Ohio guardians, is to be set by local rule.
Fees Payable to an Ohio Guardian
In Montgomery County, Local Rule 73.1 establishes provisions for guardian compensation. This rule permits guardians to take fees without application or a court order provided that those fees are equal to, or less than, the sum of:
- Five percent of income from the ward's intangible investment and deposits and installment receipts;
- 10% of gross rentals from real estate actually managed by the guardian;
- 0.25% of intangible personal property investments and deposits for each year of the accounting period; and
- 1% of distribution of personal property corpus at the conclusion of the guardianship.
If there are co-guardians, their total compensation (that does not require an application to the probate court) may not exceed the sum of the above.
To the extent that the guardian has performed extraordinary services that warrant compensation in excess of the amount referenced above, or that the guardian seeks reimbursement for expenses they have incurred on behalf of the ward, the guardian must apply to the court. In such cases, the Probate Court may set a hearing on the application for fees, and require notice of the hearing to be given to interested persons.
If a guardian has been delinquent in filing an account required by the Probate Court, the court may reduce the guardian's compensation or deny it altogether. Fees may also be reduced or denied in the event that the Probate Court, after a hearing, finds that the guardian has not faithfully discharged their duties.
If the ward is a veteran of the armed services, the Veterans' Guardianship Law applies. This law dictates that guardians' compensation may not exceed 5% of funds received during the time period covered by an account filed by the guardian.
Attorney Fees in an Ohio Guardianship
A guardian of the estate in Ohio has the right to employ an attorney. Because an attorney's services to a guardian accrue to the benefit of the ward, attorney fees are also available in a guardianship matter. This does not mean, of course, that there are no boundaries regarding those fees. The guardian remains personally liable for a contract he or she enters into with an attorney. While the guardian is permitted to seek reimbursement from the estate of the ward for the attorney's services, those services must have been reasonable, necessary, and for the ward's benefit. Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct 1.5 sets the standard for what is considered reasonable.
Guardians should also be mindful that unless good cause is shown, attorney fees will not be permitted for the attorneys of guardians who are delinquent in filing required accounts with the court. In other words, if a guardian is using the services of an attorney, those services should result in the guardian meeting his or her obligations.
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