How can I get affordable legal help with a guardianship?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Kat090359 asked...

I live in Alabama, and I have a 23-year-old handicapped son, who lives in a group home. I'm trying to get guardianship over him so I can request to see the financial reports to see where the money he receives from SSI is going and what they are paying for or spending the money on. Lawyers here in Alabama want at least $1000 before they will do anything. I got the paperwork from the doctors saying my son is incompetent. IIf I don't get guardianship over my son, if something should happen to me, then the state will have guardianship over him. So can you please help me get some legal help without it costing me a lot of money, since I don't make a lot?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

By getting the doctor's report that will be required to get a legal guardianship, sometimes called a conservatorship, for your son, you have already done a part of the legwork for the proceeding -- and that should help keep down any legal costs.

There may be a few places you can turn to for help instead of paying the high fees the lawyers are quoting you.

Courts in some locales have established some very good self-help centers that provide necessary forms and instructions for how to complete and file them. Find out by doing a search of your city or county and the words "conservatorship" or "guardianship."

If your court does not provide good help, or the idea of going it alone just seems too overwhelming, you may need to hire a lawyer to help. If you're willing to do some more of the necessary tasks, perhaps file legal papers at the court for example, then you may be able to find a lawyer who will take that into account and be willing to discount his or her services. You should be able to get referrals for experienced legal help that is also affordable through either the National Down's Syndrome Society or The ARC.

It may be worth your while to talk directly with representatives at these organizations, who also may know of local funds earmarked to help pay such legal fees.