At our Colorado law firm, our attorneys act when appointed by courts throughout the state as guardians ad litem in court proceedings involving vulnerable individuals like children, people with intellectual disabilities and incapacitated persons of any age, including elders. The job of the GAL is to investigate how the proceeding impacts the vulnerable person and advocate for his or her best interests before the court.
The GAL by bringing issues related to the interests of the vulnerable person to the attention of the judge helps to ensure that the court thoroughly considers that person’s role, rights and needs. A vulnerable person needs someone to look out for him or her since the capacity to self-advocate is likely diminished.
Many proceedings involving GALs are in probate court, but sometimes it is appropriate in other forums. Ultimately, the judge has the discretion whether to appoint a GAL and to choose who will serve in a case, but an involved person may nominate a particular person for the court’s consideration.
Examples of proceedings in which a GAL may be appointed include:
- Matters involving whether a person has become incapacitated
- Divorces involving incapacitated-spouse issues like asset protection, public-benefit preservation, long-term care, insurance and trusts
- Personal injury lawsuits and workers’ compensation claims in which a minor or incapacitated person has a financial or other interest
- Guardianships and conservatorships
- Probate matters involving inheritance and similar matters
- Child dependency and neglect actions
- Adoption and paternity
- Delinquency and truancy
- End-of-life matters involving life support
Anyone with questions about whether a GAL should be appointed in a proceeding, the role of the GAL or concern that one has or has not been appointed should speak with an experienced probate and elder law attorney.