Fees in probate and conservatorships

Posted by: Feb 18, 2014By Brian Stutheit

Q:  What is an appropriate

rate to charge for services as guardian and conservator?

A. An answer is usually something like “It depends on the circumstances.”

Here are a few general guidelines:

Family members often serve without a “fee” although a family member usually keeps a record of out-of-pocket costs and applies for reimbursement.

For persons who are appointed to these fiduciary positions who expect and are entitled to be paid a fee for services, the rate can range from $15.00 per hour to over $100 per hour depending on a number of factors, including: the complexity of the service provided, the amount of responsibility assumed, the outcome or result achieved, time lost from regular employment, rate earned at regular employment, and fees typically charged in the community by similarly skilled persons providing similar services. Conservators and guardians should not expect to charge a fee for time spent in the routine preparation of a fee invoice or a petition for approval of fees.

Professional persons (such as lawyers and accountants), appointed as conservator or guardian may ordinarily charge their regular hourly rate only for services provided in their professional capacity. For example, an attorney may charge his or her regular billing rate for drafting legal documents but not for attending a care conference or balancing a checkbook. Keeping in mind the factors set forth above, the attorney would either reduce his or her regular billing rate to the “market rate” or, if appropriate, delegate the tasks to his or her clerical or bookkeeping staff or hire another person to provide the service at the “market rate.”