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District of Columbia Courts

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Definition - What is a guardian of a minor’s estate?

A guardian of a minor’s estate is a person appointed by the Court to handle the assets of a minor and to safeguard them until the minor becomes 18.

Definition - What is a conservator? What qualifies someone to become a conservator?

A conservator is someone who is appointed by the Court in response to the filing of a petition for a general proceeding to handle income or assets of the ward for the support, care, and welfare of the ward so that they will not be wasted or dissipated.

Definition - What is a guardian ad litem?

A guardian ad litem helps the subject determine the subject’s interests in regard to the petition for a general proceeding. If the subject is unconscious or otherwise wholly incapable of determining his or her interests even with assistance, the guardian ad litem makes that determination. The need for such an appointment depends upon the circumstances of the case, and appointment of a guardian ad litem is not requested very often.

Definition - What is a guardian? What qualifies an individual to need a guardian?

A guardian is someone who is appointed by the Court in response to the filing of a petition for a general proceeding to make health care, quality of life, placement (housing), and legal decisions for an incapacitated individual who is eighteen or older.

Definition - What is a petitioner?

The petitioner is the person who files the petition for a general proceeding seeking appointment of a guardian and/or conservator for the subject.

Definition - What is a small estate?

A small estate proceeding may be opened for people who died after April 26, 2001, and had assets with a total value of $40,000.00 or less. If the person died between January 1, 1981, and June 30, 1995, the value of the estate must be $10,000 or less to qualify as a small estate. If the person died between July 1, 1995, and April 26, 2001, the value must be $15,000 or less to qualify.

Definition - What is a subject?

 

A subject is the person who is alleged to be incapacitated.

Definition - What is a visitor?

A visitor is an officer, employee, or special appointee of the Court who has no personal interest in the proceeding. A visitor reports to the Court on the ward’s current situation and living conditions. A visitor is usually a social worker. DC Code, sec. 21-2033(c) and Superior Court, Probate Division Rule 327 state the duties of a visitor.

Definition - What is a ward?

A ward is a person who has been found to be incapacitated by the Court.

Definition - What is an old law conservatorship (CON) case?

CON is a conservatorship case. Such cases were opened prior to September 30, 1989 for the appointment of a conservator of the property of an incapacitated adult and, sometimes, the conservator of the person of an incapacitated adult. Such cases are now opened as INT or IDD cases.

Definition - What is Court-appointed counsel? Who does the counsel represent?

When a petition for a general proceeding is filed, the law in the District of Columbia requires that the Court appoint an attorney to represent the subject. The Court does not appoint an attorney for the petitioner, and the Court-appointed counsel does not represent the petitioner.

Definition - What is the difference between a small estate and a large estate?

Generally, the type and amount of assets - the assets of a small estate are $40,000.00 or less for people who died after April 26, 2001. A large estate can be opened for an estate of any value.

Definition - What is the difference between a temporary guardian, a limited guardian and a general guardian?

A general guardian has full legal power to handle all medical, legal, and residency matters on behalf of a ward for the ward’s lifetime or until the guardian resigns or is removed by the Court. A limited guardian can only handle specific medical care or legal issues as directed by the Court. There are three kinds of temporary guardian: an emergency guardian for no longer than 21 days when there is a life-threatening situation or a situation involving emergency care, a health care guardian for up to 90 days, or a provisional guardian for up to 6 months when the guardian in place is not effectively performing his or her duties.

Getting Started - If I am proceeding without prepayment of costs in the underlying case type, do I need to pay the filing fee to open a LIT case?

No

Getting Started - What kinds of cases require the filing of a complaint?

1. An action to contest the validity of a will in accordance with DC Code, sec. 20-305

2. An action for payment of a claim in accordance with DC Code, sec. 20-908

3. An action to institute a plenary proceeding in accordance with DC Code, sec. 16-3105

Any other claim for relief that is not required by statute or rule to begin with the filing a petition may begin with the filing of either a complaint or a petition pursuant to Superior Court, Probate Division Rule 407.

Definition - What is a foreign will?

A foreign will is a term used to describe a will that has been filed and accepted in a state or jurisdiction other than the District of Columbia.

Getting Started - Am I entitled to be paid for serving as personal representative?

Persons, including attorneys, appointed to be personal representatives in small estates are not entitled to be paid for acting as personal representatives. Attorneys for personal representatives in small estates can receive up to $1,000.00 depending on the size of the estate and other payments approved by the Court in the final order.

Getting Started - Can a small estate be opened for real estate located outside the District of Columbia?

Yes, a small estate may be opened when the decedent’s assets include real estate located outside the District of Columbia. Publication will be required in such a case.

Getting Started - Can a small estate be opened for the purposes of obtaining medical records?

No. However, a large estate may be opened when it is necessary to obtain medical records for any purpose including potential litigation.

Getting Started - Can I still file in the District of Columbia even though the subject has been moved to a nursing home in another state?

Generally, the petition should be filed in the jurisdiction in which the person lives. You may be able to file in the District of Columbia if (1) the District of Columbia is the home state of the subject or (2) the subject has a significant connection with the District of Columbia and the subject does not have a home state, the home state has declined to exercise jurisdiction, or no petition is pending before the home state, or (3) the District of Columbia is neither a home state nor a significant connection state, but the home state and the significant connection state decline to exercise jurisdiction, and jurisdiction in the District of Columbia is more appropriate.

Getting Started - Can petitions for a small estate be mailed?

It is recommended that the petition be filed in person so that any questions may be resolved immediately and the petition will be processed more efficiently. If you do not live in the Washington DC metropolitan area or cannot file in person for any other reason, the petition, filing fee, and required attachments may be mailed to Probate Division, DC Superior Court, 515 5th Street, NW, 3rd Floor, Washington, DC 20001.

Getting Started - Do I need a doctor’s report to open a case for the appointment of a guardian and/or conservator?

The Court may waive appointment of an examiner when a report has been submitted in writing to the Court regarding the condition of the allegedly incapacitated individual. If no report is submitted, the court will appoint an examiner.

Getting Started - Do I need an attorney?

No; however, the filing of a petition for appointment of a guardian and/or conservator begins a contested legal proceeding (i.e., the person who files the petition bears the burden of proving the incapacity of the subject at a hearing in Court at which evidence can be presented, witnesses can testify and be cross-examined, and legal arguments can be made). Counsel will be appointed to represent the interests of the subject. Counsel is not appointed to represent the petitioner.

Getting Started - Do I need to open an estate if I am a member of the decedent’s family?

Yes if the decedent owned an asset that needs to be transferred. According to the law in the District of Columbia, only a Court-appointed personal representative has authority over any assets that were solely owned by a person who is now deceased when there is no beneficiary or payable on death designation. The Court-appointed personal representative will collect the decedent’s assets and make distribution in accordance with the final order that the Court will issue.

Getting Started - How can I get appointed quickly for emergency medical treatment? How can I get a faster hearing date?

For life-threatening emergencies or situations involving emergency health care, file a petition for the appointment of a temporary 21-day emergency guardian. This type of petition is referred the day that it is filed to the emergency Judge-in-Chambers at the Court for hearing.

If there is no life-threatening emergency or the situation does not involve emergency health care, the appointment of a 90-day health care guardian may be requested instead. Such petitions are also referred the day of filing to the emergency Judge-in-Chambers.

Another alternative, if there is no life-threatening emergency, is included in the petition for general proceeding in item 12, which allows the petitioner to request temporary relief to preserve property only. If the Court is satisfied with the information provided as to why temporary relief is needed, the Court may schedule a hearing on the issue within 10 days. If a temporary appointment is made at that hearing, the appointment lasts until the hearing regarding the petition for a general proceeding.

If an emergency situation exists, consult your counsel as to the best type of emergency guardianship available for your situation.

Getting Started - How can I request a hearing when no case is open?

File either a petition for a general proceeding or, in an emergency situation, a petition for appointment of an emergency guardian to begin an intervention case and obtain a hearing. The two Notice of Initial Hearing forms must be included with the petition for general proceeding, as is required by Superior Court, Probate Division Rule 325.

Getting Started - How do I become a conservator?

A person becomes a conservator when the Court appoints a conservator in response to the filing of a petition for a general proceeding, medical evidence, and all attachments.

Getting Started - How do I become a guardian?

A person becomes a guardian when the Court appoints that person guardian in response to the filing a petition for a general proceeding.

Getting Started - How many times will I need to meet with a small estate specialist?

As a general rule, if the paperwork that is submitted for filing is complete, only one time. If the paperwork is incomplete or more supporting documents are required, more meetings may be necessary.

Getting Started - I am estranged from my other family members and do not know their addresses. What do I do?

Identify your family members by name, and indicate that you do not know where they live. If you are petitioning for appointment as personal representative, but you do not have priority to serve, you must file a sworn statement as to your efforts to locate the persons who have priority to serve.

Getting Started - I am the only person who helped the decedent; can I open the estate?

The nominated personal representative in a will or, if the decedent died without a will, an heir with the highest priority to serve as personal representative may file a petition to open a small estate proceeding. The estate procedure is always easier and faster if the person with highest priority to serve files the petition to open the small estate. The order of priority is listed below.

If you are not an heir of the decedent, you may open a small estate if an heir having the highest priority co-petitions with you. Note that consents and renunciations signed by the other heirs must be filed.

If you are an heir of the decedent, but other heirs have priority over you, you may file a petition to open a small estate if you have renunciations from the heirs with higher priority.

A creditor of the estate may also open a small estate by filing a petition for standard probate.

Getting Started - I do not have access to a typewriter or computer. Can the forms be handwritten?

The Superior Court’s rules require that the forms be typed. However, waiver of the rule may be requested, and the petition for small estate proceeding may then be handwritten, if legible. The Notice of Appointment, Notice to Creditors and Notice to Unknown Heirs must be typed. Typewriters are available for this purpose at the Probate Division, 515 5th Street, NW, 3rd Floor, Washington, DC

Getting Started - If I have a problem accessing or completing the forms online, who can be contacted?

Email the DC Courts Webmaster at webmaster [at] dcsc.gov.

Getting Started - If I want to become the owner of an insurance policy to continue to pay the premiums for the insured person because the owner of the policy has died, what should I do?

Contact the insurance company to determine its procedure for assuming the policy owned by a deceased person. An estate may need to be opened if the insurance policy is being cashed and the proceeds paid to the decedent’s estate.

Getting Started - Is an attorney required to administer a small estate?

No, unless you would like to hire an attorney to assist you. Small estate petitions are fairly simple to complete. Small estate specialists are available in the Legal Branch of the Probate Division to answer any questions remaining when the petitions are filed.

Getting Started - What expenses are eligible for reimbursement from the assets of the small estate?

The expenses that are eligible for reimbursement are Court costs, publication costs, administrative costs, and/or statutory funeral costs.

Getting Started - What is the Court cost for filing a disclaimer?

None.

Getting Started - Where can I find a copy of the rules or laws governing intervention proceedings?

The rules are available on the courts website here. Click on "Superior Court Rules for the Probate Division."

The law is contained in DC Code, Title 21 and is available online on the Council of the District of Columbia’s website at http://dcclims1.dccouncil.us/dcofficialcode. Click at "View DC Official Code: click here."
 

Getting Started - Where can I obtain the forms to open a case for the appointment of a guardian and/or conservator or to obtain a protective order?

1.Complete the forms online, and print them out to file.

2.Write or visit:
Probate Division
Probate Clerk’s Office, Room 314
515 5th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Getting Started - Why is it necessary to open an estate when the only asset is a car?

It is necessary to open an estate because since June 2006, the District of Columbia government has required a Court order to transfer title to motor vehicles solely owned by a decedent.

Getting Started - Why is written verification of assets required?

A written Verification of Assets is required because it confirms an asset’s value and type and confirms for the Court that the case is within the jurisdictional limits of a small estate. All assets are included in the final order, and the amount of the asset must be exact to the penny or the distributions included in the final order will be incorrect.

Other Questions - Is mediation available in Major Litigation (LIT) cases?

Yes. Mediation is included in the Initial Order and is held after the filing of the joint pretrial statement and before the pretrial conference. The court may also order mediation at any time it deems appropriate, and parties may request a referral to mediation by motion filed with the court.

Getting Started - Are there any fees associated with filing a petition for appointment of the guardian of the estate of a minor?

There is no Court cost to file a petition to become a guardian of the estate of a minor.
 

Getting Started - Are forms available for filing?

The forms are available online. Print them out to file. The forms must be filed in person because the proposed guardian and minor must meet with an Assistant Deputy Register of Wills.

Getting Started - Can a will be filed prior to death?

No. A will may be filed only after the death of the person who signed the will.

Getting Started - Can I file a petition for appointment as guardian of the person of the minor with the Probate Division?

No. The Probate Division handles guardianships of the property or assets of a minor. The Family Division handles petitions for appointment of a custodian of a child when one is needed to make care or custody decisions. A petition for appointment as custodian should be filed in the Family Division.

Getting Started - Can I retain the original will and file a copy?

No. The original will must be filed with the Probate Division of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

Getting Started - Do all wills have to be filed?

Yes. The law requires that a will be filed within 90 days after the death of the testator (i.e., the person who executed or signed the will).

Getting Started - Do you need a will to open an estate?

No. If the person died without a will, you may still file a petition for probate to open an estate and indicate on the petition that the person died intestate (which means "without a will"). If the person died with a will, the will must be filed either before or with the documents needed to open an estate.

Getting Started - Does the subject need to be present at the initial hearing and any subsequent hearings?

Yes. If counsel appointed for the subject believes that it is not advisable for the subject to attend for any reason (such as health issues), counsel can ask the Court to excuse the subject’s appearance by filing a motion to excuse the subject’s or ward’s appearance prior to the hearing. Only the Judge may excuse the subject from the initial hearing.

Getting Started - How do I withdraw a petition for a general proceeding?

If the Court has already issued orders appointing counsel or any other participants, file a motion to withdraw. If no orders have been issued, a petition for a general proceeding can be withdrawn by praecipe.

Getting Started - If I cannot find a parent, what do I do? How do I provide the required notice?

A parent who cannot be located and therefore has not consented to a petition for appointment of a guardian of the estate of a minor can be served by publication or some other method for good cause shown if the Court so orders.

Getting Started - If the minor lives outside D.C. and a civil lawsuit is pending in the District, can a guardianship case be opened and administered in the District

No. A petition for the appointment of a guardian of the estate of the minor should be filed in the state where the minor lives.

Getting Started - Is it possible to wait until the minor has reached the age of majority so that the emancipated minor can collect the assets directly and not open a guardianship of the estate?

Sometimes, waiting is possible. For example, if the asset consists of the proceeds of an insurance policy and the company has a procedure for holding the assets, waiting may be an option. If the minor is seventeen and will emancipate soon, waiting may be an option. Each situation is different. Consult counsel for options.

Getting Started - Must the ward own a certain amount of assets to qualify for appointment of a conservator?

No. However, a conservator must file an inventory and annual accounts, so if the ward has few or no assets, a conservatorship may not be needed or appropriate.

Getting Started - What are the rights of the minor?

A minor who is fourteen or older has the right to nominate a guardian.

Getting Started - What happens if I am not the custodial parent of the minor?

The parents of the minor have priority under the law in the District of Columbia to serve as the guardian of a minor, and a custodial parent is more likely to be appointed as a guardian than a noncustodial parent. If custody of the child has been granted to a nonparent by the Court, that custodian is more likely to be appointed than the parents.

Getting Started - What options other than opening a guardianship are available?

Other possibilities depend on the facts of the situation. Consult an attorney for advice.

Getting Started - Where can I find a copy of the rules or laws governing guardianship of minors?

1.Rules 108, 221, 222, 223, and 225 are available on the courts website here. Click on "Superior Court Rules for the Probate Division." 

2.The law is contained in DC Code, Title 21 and is available online on the Council of the District of Columbia’s website. Click on "View DC Official Code: click here."

Getting Started - Why is bond necessary? What happens if a potential guardian is unable to obtain bond?

Bond protects the assets of the minor. A guardian of a minor must be bonded in the amount of the assets that the guardian will be holding plus one year’s worth of income from those assets. If the guardian misappropriates the assets, the bonding company will reimburse the estate of the minor in the amount that was mishandled up to the value of the bond. The Court is not likely to appoint anyone who cannot obtain bond as a guardian.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - Can I pick which Judge my report goes to?

No, the Judge to whom a report is forwarded cannot be selected by anyone. Each Report of Guardian will be forwarded to the Judge assigned to that particular ward’s intervention case.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - Can I remove a ward from the District of Columbia without court approval?

In accordance with the law in the District of Columbia, a guardian may establish a residence for the ward outside the District of Columbia.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - Can probate staff notarize reports?

The Probate staff is available to take the oath required on the petition for a general proceeding or the Report of Guardian.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - Can the Report of Guardian be handwritten?

Although the Report of Guardian can be handwritten, guardians are strongly advised to use the interactive form on the website to type the report and print it out for filing. If the Report of Guardian form is typed or saved to a personal computer, it can be updated with any changes every six months, printed, and filed.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - Do I have to have my Letters recorded?

Letters of conservatorship and orders terminating conservatorships must be filed or recorded in the Office of the Recorder of Deeds so that notice of the transfer of title is on file. There is a fee associated with this filing.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - Do I report a small bank account held on the ward’s behalf?

A small bank account held on the ward’s behalf may be listed on the Report of Guardian in paragraph 22. The Court determines what qualifies as "small."

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - How can I find a day program?

Contact the DC Office of Aging and Disability Resource Center at (202) 724-5626 for a list of available day programs in the DC area for an elderly or disabled ward. The Court’s Guardianship Assistance Program at (202) 879-9407 may also be able to provide guidance and assistance.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - How do I open a conservatorship account?

Take the Letters of conservatorship, your identification, and the ward’s Social Security number to a District of Columbia bank that is conveniently located. Open a bank account that is titled in the name of the subject and yourself as conservator. Usually, this is a checking account that returns checks and provides monthly bank statements because bank statements and canceled checks are needed to prepare the annual account and copies must be presented with the account.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - How do I pay for long-term care for a ward with no assets?

If a ward has assets consisting of less than the Medicaid resource and income limits, apply for Medicaid, also known as DC medical assistance. Once the ward is found to be eligible, Medicaid will pay the difference between any income that the ward has and the nursing home bill, less a small monthly personal needs allowance for the ward.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - How do I remove someone who is living in the ward’s real property?

Consult counsel for advice and direction. Among the possibilities are a petition for rule to show cause for possession in accordance with Superior Court, Probate Division Rule 313 in the Probate Division, a lawsuit for possession in Landlord Tenant Court, or a complaint to the Metropolitan Police Department.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - How do I resign as conservator?

File a Petition Post Appointment to Terminate Conservatorship, a Preliminary Order of Termination, an Order Appointing Counsel, and a Notice of Hearing on Subsequent Petition, in compliance with Superior Court, Probate Division Rule 334. After a hearing, the Court will issue a preliminary order of termination, direct the filing of a final account and report within 60 days, and appoint a successor. Upon approval of the final account, the Court will enter a final order of termination.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - How do I resign as guardian?

File a Petition Post Appointment to resign. The Court will hold a hearing to determine whether to terminate your appointment and appoint a successor guardian.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - How does one obtain additional Letters?

Additional or updated Letters can be purchased for $1.00 each at the Probate Division, 515 5th Street, NW, Room 314, Washington, DC 20001, or ordered by mail. To order by mail, complete the Copy Request Form and mail with check payable to “Register of Wills.”

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - How does one obtain permission to late file reports, inventories, accounts, and plans?

File a motion for an extension of time before the filing deadline or a motion for an enlargement of time if the filing deadline has passed. A Pro Se Motion form is available on this website. The motion must state how much additional time is needed and the reasons why additional time is needed.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - How long are Letters of guardianship or conservatorship valid?

Letters are valid until the guardianship or conservatorship is terminated; however, some organizations and/or institutions may require Letters to be updated or recertified if they are more than 60 days old.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - How long does it take to get Letters?

Generally, Letters are issued within two business days of the filing of the Acceptance and Consent and bond (if required).

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - How often am I required to visit the ward?

The guardian must visit the ward once a month unless the Court orders otherwise.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - If a person receives notice of a hearing, is it mandatory that the person attend?

It depends upon the person’s relationship to the case and the kind of hearing that is being held. The ward, guardian, or conservator should attend unless counsel advises them not to do so. Hearing notices are sent to all persons interested in a proceeding so that they are kept informed of the progress of the proceeding. If the person who receives the notice has information important to the proceeding, that person should attend and present the information to the Court.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - Is a Guardianship Plan required?

All guardians and successor guardians appointed in INT cases on or after July 1, 2009 must file a Guardianship Plan within 90 days of appointment.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - My ward has disappeared; how do I find the ward?

If a ward has disappeared suddenly, the disappearance should be reported to the police. If the ward has been missing a long time, a report may not be necessary. Consult your counsel regarding the choices that are best for your situation. Methods of finding the ward include the following: checking police and hospital records, checking with the District of Columbia’s Homeless Outreach Services, homeless shelter rolls, churches and other charitable organizations aiding the poor, Social Security and Medicaid records, bank records, the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Vital Records, morgues, the prisoner locator service, the ward’s family and friends, the internet, and search firms that specialize in searches for missing persons.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - My ward refuses to cooperate with me; what should I do?

A guardian has a legal duty to act in the ward’s interests to ensure that the ward receives the care that the ward needs and lives in an environment that is appropriate for the ward’s needs. At times, performing this duty involves taking actions for the ward’s best interests that the ward will not like. Sometimes, a petition post appointment can be filed when there is a need to settle a dispute between the guardian and the ward. If the relationship with the ward has become irretrievably broken, consider filing a petition post appointment to resign and allow the Court to appoint a successor guardian. Consult counsel for advice.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - Should each co-guardian file a separate report?

No, both co-guardians should be working together for the welfare of the ward and should sign one report if possible.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - We (guardian and Ward) live in another state now, why does this case not close?

If the ward and the guardian have moved to another state, the Court will terminate the intervention proceeding (1) when a petition post appointment to terminate intervention proceeding is filed here and approved by the Court or (2) when a petition post appointment to transfer the guardianship or conservatorship to another state is filed and granted by the Court. Such petitions should contain representations regarding whether a petition for a protective proceeding has been filed in the ward’s new domicile and, if so, certified copies of any orders issued regarding the ward in the new state of domicile.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - What are the Letters used for?

Letters of conservatorship are evidence of the transfer of all assets of a ward (or the assets specified in the Letters) to the conservator. Letters of guardianship are evidence that a guardian has been appointed who has the authority to make medical decisions, health care decisions, quality of life decisions, and legal decisions for the ward.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - What if something happens to the guardian?

If the guardian is unable to perform the duties of a guardian, the Court should be notified immediately by the filing of a Petition Post Appointment pursuant to Superior Court, Probate Division Rule 322 to appoint a successor guardian. If the guardian dies, a Notice of Death should be filed, and a Petition Post Appointment for the appointment of a successor should be filed.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - When are the court costs due?

Court costs are paid with the first account. Additional costs may be owed with subsequent accounts if additional assets are received.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - When do I need the authority of the court?

If something needs to be done for the ward and the authority to do it is in doubt, review the Findings of Fact or the order of appointment to see if either document specifically allows what needs to be done or specifically prohibits it. If the Findings or the order of appointment do not provide any guidance, review the powers set forth at DC Code, sec. 21-2047 for guidance. If there is still a question about authority to act, consider filing a petition post appointment requesting permission or instructions from the Court.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - Why did I receive notice of a hearing if I already filed my plan, report, inventory, or account?

A Guardianship Plan, Report of Guardian, inventory, or account must be filed by the statutory deadline. When any of these documents has not been filed by the statutory deadline, a hearing is scheduled. Once a hearing is scheduled, the guardian or conservator must attend, even if the item is filed, and the Probate Division judges expect the party who filed the item late to be present at the hearing.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - Why is a bond required?

District of Columbia law requires a bond for the protection of the assets of the ward. In general, a conservator must be able to qualify for a bond that covers all the assets of the ward plus one year’s income.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator - Why must a Report of Guardian be filed, and how often do I file it?

The Court has the ultimate responsibility for the welfare of each ward. A Report of Guardian must be filed every six months from the date of appointment as guardian so that the Court is kept informed of the ward’s medical status, residence, and general condition for the protection of the ward. The filing of such reports is required by the applicable District of Columbia law and is a condition of appointment as a guardian. Guardians who do not timely file the Report of Guardian are subject to removal by the Court. The reports are reviewed by the Probate Division staff and sometimes responded to by letter from the Court.

Serving as a Guardian or Conservator -How many Letters of guardianship or conservatorship will I receive?

Five. Additional Letters are available for $1 each.

Other Questions - Does a will need to be notarized?

No. Under the law in the District of Columbia, the will must be in writing, signed by the testator, and attested and signed by at least 2 credible witnesses in the presence of the testator.

Other Questions - Does the Probate Division accept living wills for filing?

No.

Other Questions - How do I get a will from a safe deposit box?

If you are not authorized to enter the safe deposit box of the decedent, you may petition for the appointment of a special administrator to open the safe deposit box by filing a Petition for Appointment of Special Administrator to Enter Safe Deposit Box and Order.

Other Questions - How do I obtain a will from someone who is withholding it?

File a petition for standard probate, and follow the procedure set forth in Superior Court, Probate Division Rule 403(a)(4). See Filing Standard Probate Proceedings in the District of Columbia.

Other Questions - How long does the will remain at the Probate Division?

The Probate Division keeps wills forever as a permanent part of the public legal record. The will is kept in the Probate Division for a period of 10 years from the date of filing. After 10 years, it is archived permanently.

Other Questions - How much does it cost to request a copy of a will?

If the Probate Division copies a will for you, it will cost 50¢ per page. If you wish to visit the Probate Division to copy the will yourself, you may do so at the public copier at a cost of 25¢ per page.

Other Questions - I have been told to come to the Probate Division to pick up letters. How is this done?

Letters of Administration are the formal document issued by the Court after a petition for probate is filed and the Court issues an order opening the estate and appointing a personal representative. When a personal representative is appointed in a large estate proceeding, 12 original Letters of Administration are included in the materials sent to the personal representative or counsel for use in administering the estate. Additional Letters may be ordered by the personal representative or counsel at a cost of $1.00 each. To request appointment as personal representative, see Filing for the Administration of a Decedent’s Estate (ADM) in the District of Columbia.

Other Questions - If a will has been filed incorrectly in the District of Columbia, how can it be released, so that it can be filed in the proper jurisdiction?

Once a will has been accepted for filing, it can be released only by order of the Court. To obtain such an order, file a verified petition for release of the will and a proposed order authorizing transfer of the will. The following information must be included in the petition: (1) the facts that indicate that the will was filed in the District of Columbia in error, (2) the facts that explain why another state has jurisdiction, (3) the mailing address and telephone number of the Clerk of the Court in the jurisdiction to which the will is to be transferred who is authorized to accept the will on behalf of that Court. The Court will review the petition and issue an order either granting the petition or denying it. A copy of the order will be mailed to you. If the petition is granted, the Office of the Register of Wills will send the will to the other jurisdiction as a court-to-court transfer.

Other Questions - If I am nominated in a will to serve as personal representative and do not wish to serve as personal representative, what should I file?

If a nominated personal representative does not wish to serve, he/she can file a Renunciation.

Other Questions - If there is no estate why does the will need to be filed and retained at the Probate Division?

The law in the District of Columbia requires that the will be filed even if there is no estate. Whether an estate needs to be opened or is solvent is a separate issue.

Serving as a Guardian of a Minor - Is court approval required prior to investing the minor’s funds?

Yes. A Petition for Authority To Invest or for Approval of Investment Plan or Program and documentation in support of that request can be filed for the Court’s consideration.

Serving as a Guardian of a Minor - What are the rights of parents or custodians of minors with respect to notices?

Notices do not have to be sent to parents or custodians. However, a parent or custodian can ask the Court to be allowed to participate as a party by filing a Petition for Permission To Participate. If the Court grants the request, the parent or custodian then has the right to receive copies of all documents that are filed.

Serving as a Guardian of a Minor -Can bond premiums be paid from the minor’s funds?

Yes, without prior Court approval. The invoice and proof of payment must be attached to the account.

Serving as a Guardian of a Minor -How can money from the guardianship be spent? Can guardianship funds be used to pay for gifts, equipment, and other things that the guardian wants for the minor?

The funds of a minor can only be spent on three types of expenditures without prior Court order: (1) the bond premium, (2) Court costs, and (3) income tax on the money of the minor that is being held by the guardian. All other expenditures must be preapproved by the Court. To obtain approval, the guardian files a Petition for Authority To Expend Funds, asking the Court to approve a particular expenditure and attaches any backup documentation, such as the quote for a computer or the brochure for a summer camp. A Financial Statement from the parent(s) should also be attached. Parents are responsible for food, clothing, shelter, and medical care for minors, and the Court will wish to know why the parent is not paying if the expenditure that is being requested is for one of those expenses.

Serving as a Guardian of a Minor -In an emergency, can money be spent without the permission of the Court and the expenditures later be presented to court for ratification?

Ordinarily, the funds of a minor are not to be used for the support of the minor because parents are responsible for support. Therefore there should be no emergencies. If an emergency does occur and the guardian spends money without prior Court approval, the guardian can file a petition for ratification (approval) of the expenditure but will be personally responsible for repaying the money if the Court does not ratify (approve) the expenditure.

Serving as a Guardian of a Minor -The guardian will not respond. What do I do?

It depends upon your relationship to the case and what you are asking the guardian to do. If the minor’s money is needed for care of the minor and you are the caretaker of the child, petition the Court to approve the expenditure. However, be advised that the Court will wish to know that the expenditure is in the best interests of the child in the view of the guardian.

Other Questions - What do I do if I discover more assets after the Court has issued a final order?

If assets are discovered after a final order has issued, a supplemental petition for small estate proceeding and written verification of those newly found assets must be filed. If the amount discovered increases the estate assets over $40,000.00, then a petition for probate for a large estate must be filed.

Accounting Question - What is Financial Account Information form (form 27)?

It is the Financial Account Information form that a guardian is required to file with the account and includes such information as the name on an account, the name and address of the bank or financial institution, and the account number. The form is maintained under seal and is available only to authorized Court personnel unless otherwise included in the public record.

Accounting Questions - How often must I file my account?

Probate Division Rules 204(a)(4) and (5) require that accounts be filed annually within thirty (30) days after the anniversary date of appointment. Final accounts must be filed within sixty (60) days after the minor’s eighteenth birthday or the guardian’s death or incapacity. A schedule of mandatory filing dates is provided to the guardian upon appointment.

Accounting Questions - Can I distribute any assets or pay any bills pending court approval of the final account?

Prior to approval of a final account, a conservator may only disburse or expend pursuant to a court order authorizing expenditures or disbursements. Such an order is obtained by filing a petition with the Court for such authority pursuant to Superior Court, Probate Division Rule 334. Otherwise, a conservator should wait until approval of the final account to make final distribution of the deceased ward’s assets.

Accounting Questions - Can the audit of the account be expedited?

Yes; write P. Allen Butler, III, Auditing Branch Manager or Herbert Files, Supervisory Auditor and request an expedited audit of the account. Reasons for the expedited request must be provided.

Accounting Questions - Do I need to file a conservator’s report with each account?

Yes

Accounting Questions - Does the conservator need to be present while the appraisal is being done?

The conservator must be present while the appraisal is being done. If the conservator will not be available, the conservator must write the Court appraiser, designating the person who will be present and including the case number and name. That person must be present while the appraisal is being done.

Accounting Questions - How can I find out which auditor is assigned to my case?

Telephone the Duty Auditor at 202-870-9447, or call 202-879-9434.

Accounting Questions - How can I obtain an appraisal, and can I have my own appraiser?

Make an appointment with the court appraiser by calling 202-879-9445. The services of the court appraiser are free. The court appraiser does not appraise real property, coin or stamp collections, or clothing (with the exception of fur coats). If another appraiser is used, the conservator must pay for that appraisal with his or her own funds.

Accounting Questions - How long does it take to audit an account once it has been filed?

Generally, an account is audited within 30 to 45 days from the date of filing. If no initial audit notice has been received after 60 days, contact the Auditing Branch Manager at 202-879-9429 to inquire regarding the status of the audit.

Accounting Questions - How long will the appraisal take?

The average appraisal takes 2 to 3 hours. If there are more items than usual, it takes longer.

Accounting Questions - If a summary hearing for failure to satisfy audit requirements has been set and the requirements are satisfied before the scheduled summary hearing date, will the hearing be vacated (cancelled) so

No. A summary hearing can only be vacated by the court (1) at the hearing or (2) by an order in response to a motion to vacate summary hearing filed by the fiduciary. The motion should be filed at least 13 days prior to the date of the hearing, and the Pro Se Motion to Vacate Summary Hearing form may be used. If the motion is filed less than 13 days from the date of the hearing, it should be by consent of all parties. The motion should state the reasons for the delay.

Accounting Questions - Is Court approval (i.e., a Court order) required before expenditures are made?

Unless the order appointing the conservator in an INT or IDD case restricts spending in some way, Court approval is not required before expenditures are made unless the expenditure is a fee to the guardian, conservator, or counsel. All expenditures are, however, subject to proper accounting. Receipts, bills, cancelled checks, and bank statements must be filed with the annual account in support of all expenditures. In CON cases (those filed prior to September 30, 1989), Court approval is required before expenditures can be made.

Accounting Questions - Is there a checklist of items to ensure that an account will be accepted for filing?

Yes. A checklist is available and can be found on pages 6-11 of the Inventory and Accounting Guide.

Accounting Questions - Is there a checklist of the items that must be included with an account to ensure that the account will be accepted for filing?

Yes. A checklist is available on pages 6 to 11 of the Inventory and Accounting Guide and on the Probate Division website.

Accounting Questions - Once an accounting is filed, how do I find out which auditor has been assigned to the account?

Telephone the Duty Auditor at 202-879-9447, or call 202-879-9434 for the assigned auditor’s name and telephone number about two (2) days after the account is filed.

Accounting Questions - Once audit requirements are submitted, how long does it take for the auditor to review the requirements?

Generally, requirements are reviewed within 2 weeks of submission. However, in complex matters or accounts with extensive audit requirements, the process may take longer.

Accounting Questions - What forms do I need to prepare an account?

The forms needed are: (1) Account (with Schedules A – L), (2) Financial Account Information (Form 27) (for confidential information under SCR-PD 5.1), (3) bank statements, and (4) canceled checks, receipts, or vouchers in support of all transactions.

Accounting Questions - When is the inventory due?

The inventory must be filed no later than 90 days from the date of the order appointing the conservator or successor conservator.

Accounting Questions - When will I receive the appraisal report?

Approximately one week after the appraisal.

Accounting Questions - Why do inquiries from auditors sometimes differ even though situations are similar?

Audit inquiries may differ depending upon the circumstances of the case. If there is a question regarding a particular audit that cannot be resolved with the auditor performing the audit, write either P. Allen Butler, III, Auditing Branch Manager or Anne Meister, Esq., Register of Wills, and request an administrative review. Note that a request for administrative review will not stay the response period.

Other Questions - Can a claim be filed in a conservatorship?

Yes. A form titled Statement of Claim Pursuant to Superior Court, Probate Division Rule 307 is available on this website.

Other Questions - Does the Court accept a power of attorney?

Sometimes, the existence of a power of attorney is pertinent to an intervention proceeding. The Court may accept a power of attorney under certain circumstances and for limited purposes. Consult counsel of your choosing for advice regarding this issue.

Other Questions - How can I get a power of attorney?

The Court cannot provide any advice relating to obtaining or executing a power of attorney. Consult counsel of your choosing.

Other Questions - How can I schedule a hearing before the Court if I disagree with something that the conservator is or is not doing?

File a Petition Post Appointment in accordance with Superior Court, Probate Division Rule 322 asking the Court to decide what should be done.

Other Questions - How do I have a guardian removed? How do I get appointed to replace a guardian?

File a Petition Post Appointment to remove a guardian. Be specific regarding the reasons for removal. A hearing will be held. The Judge will consider the contents of the petition and the evidence presented at the hearing and decide whether to remove the guardian and whether a successor guardian should be appointed. The successor may be the petitioner, a relative or friend of the ward, or an attorney from the Court’s fiduciary panel.

Other Questions - How do I obtain a subpoena?

Discovery in intervention cases occurs only with the Court’s permission. File a motion requesting permission to issue a subpoena that includes a description of the information that you are seeking and a proposed order. If the Court grants the motion, counsel can issue the subpoena. Persons who are not represented by counsel must come to the Probate Division, Probate Clerk’s Office with 3 copies of a completed subpoena form and a copy of the Court order authorizing issuance of the subpoena so that the subpoena can be issued.

Other Questions - May I oppose the appointment of a guardian?

Yes. A response to a petition for general proceeding may be filed up to five days before the general proceeding and should list any objections for the Judge to consider at the hearing.

Other Questions - What is a certificate of service, and how do I prepare one?

A certificate of service informs the Court that a copy of the document that is being presented for filing has been mailed to all parties. (See above for an explanation of who is a party.) The date that the copy was mailed to each party and the name and complete mailing address of each party must be included in the certificate of service. Many of the forms on this website contain a certificate of service that can be used or used as an example. The names and addresses contained in the certificate of service and the name and address of the person filing the document should also be listed in the “cc” list at the end of the proposed order.

Other Questions - Who are the parties to the case? How do I become a party?

The parties in an intervention proceeding include the subject of the proceeding, any guardian or conservator, the person filing the petition to initiate the intervention proceeding, and a creditor filing a petition to determine claim.

Any other person who wishes to participate in the proceeding may file a Petition for Permission to Participate at least 5 days before any hearing. The petition must state how the best interests of the subject will be served by the person’s participation. The Court may confer party status on any participant it deems appropriate.

Closing the Guardianship or Conservatorship - Closing the Guardianship or Conservatorship - How do I withdraw money from the estates deposit account?

File a petition for release of funds held in the estate deposit account and order. If the Court grants the motion, go to the Probate Clerk’s Office on the third floor at 515 5th Street, NW, with a copy of the order and identification and contact information. A check will be mailed from the Court’s Budget and Finance Division after the paperwork is processed.

Closing the Guardianship or Conservatorship - How do I deposit money in the estates deposit account?

In an intervention proceeding, file a petition post appointment to deposit funds into the estate deposit account and proposed order. In a decedent’s estate, file a petition to deposit funds into the estate deposit account and proposed order. If the Court grants the motion, go to the Probate Clerk’s Office, Room 314,at 515 5th Street, NW, with a copy of the order and a check made payable to the Register of Wills for no less than the amount of money that the order states is to be deposited.

Closing the Guardianship or Conservatorship - How do I terminate my appointment as conservator when the ward has died?

File a Petition Post Appointment to Terminate Conservatorship of Deceased Ward in compliance with the requirements of Superior Court, Probate Division Rule 334, an account titled “Final” and ending on the date of death, and a final Conservator’s Report within 60 days of the ward’s death. Upon hearing and approval of the final account, the Court will issue an order of termination directing any appropriate conditions for termination of the conservatorship.

Closing the Guardianship or Conservatorship - How do I terminate my appointment as guardian when the ward has died?

If the ward has died, file a Suggestion of Death, notifying the Court of the ward’s death. Then file a final Report of Guardian within 60 days of the filing of the Suggestion of Death. After the final Report of Guardian is filed, the Court will enter an order terminating the guardianship.

Closing the Guardianship or Conservatorship - Once a final account has been approved, how long does it take to receive distributions from the estate?

In intervention cases in which the ward has died, a conservator has up to 60 days to file a final receipt of distribution.

Closing the Guardianship of a Minor - What options do I have if I do not want to turn over a large sum of money to a minor who has recently reached the age of majority

A guardian should discuss wise choices for investment and use of the money but cannot withhold the funds from the emancipated minor.

Closing the Guardianship of a Minor - How can I resign?

File a Petition To Resign with the Court, stating the reasons for the resignation.

Closing the Guardianship of a Minor - How long does the appointment as guardian of the estate of the minor last?

The appointment ends when the minor emancipates, i.e., becomes 18, or when the guardianship is terminated by Court order for some other reason.

Closing the Guardianship of a Minor - If the minor has reached the age of majority and cannot be located, to whom should distribution be made?

The guardian may file a Petition To Deposit Funds Into the Estate Deposit Account at the Probate Division. The funds will be held until the emancipated minor files a Petition for Release of Funds Held in the Estate Deposit Account, the Court approves the petition, and the emancipated minor brings the order allowing release of the funds to the Probate Division cashier with identification to begin the process of releasing the funds.

Closing the Guardianship of a Minor - When can funds be turned over to a minor who has become 18? Can distribution be made to the minor prior to the approval of the final account?

No. Ordinarily, the Final Account is approved, and then distribution is made to the minor. This process takes 60-90 days after the minor has become 18 because a final account must be prepared and filed, reviewed by the auditing staff, and approved by the Court. When the assets are paid to the emancipated minor, the guardian must get a signed receipt and file it in the Probate Division with the auditor who audited the final account.

Closing the Guardianship or Conservatorship - If the ward has died, does a Report of Guardian still have to be filed?

If a ward has died, a Notice of Death should be filed as soon as possible to alert the Court and other interested persons. A final Report of Guardian must then be filed within 60 days. If you have already reported the ward’s date of death in the final guardianship report, a Suggestion of Death is still required to ensure proper docketing of the ward’s date of death by Court staff. Suggestions of Death should contain a certificate of service so that other parties are informed that the ward has died.

Fees - Are there any restrictions upon the amount of compensation the Court will award to paralegals, legal assistants, and law clerks?

Yes, the rate is usually $45 per hour when the Court grants such petitions for compensation from the Guardianship Fund. If the individual has specific qualifications or specialized training that justify a higher rate of compensation, those qualifications or the specialized training should be explained in detail in the petition for compensation. Note that requests for compensation for a person functioning as second chair are not likely to be approved.

See In re Brenda J. Wilson and In re Irene Mason, 139 WLR 2753 (DC Superior Court, December 27, 2011); In re Timothy Lynear, 2002 INT 246, 1-13-12 order; In re Matilda Maiden, 2009 INT 243, 1-5-12 order; In re Martha Lee Leathers, 2008 INT 301, 1-13-12 order; In re Vanessa Monroe, 1994 INT 48, 4-5-11 order

Fees - Can a family member who is a guardian and/or conservator file a petition for compensation?

Yes, a family member who is a guardian and/or conservator can file a petition for compensation. In general, the Court will consider fees claimed for fiduciary decision-making, administrative advocacy, or supervision of other care providers if they are reasonable; however, the Court has not been awarding fees for personal services provided by a family member, such as bathing, combing hair, feeding, caring for the ward’s pet, and other similar services.

In re Taha Al-Baseer, 19 A.3d 341, 2011 DC App. LEXIS 231, 10-PR-225, DCC.A., 5-12-11 (2002 INT 276); In re Claudette R. Boyd, 2009 INT 50, 8-5-11; In re Jesse Payton, 2010 INT 77, 8-4-11 order; In re Lena Hawkins, 2010 INT 266, 1-9-12 order; In re Ada Jackson, 2010 INT 93, 1-4-12 order

Fees - Can a guardian and/or conservator be paid for services rendered before appointment?

The threshold date for payment of fees is the date of the guardian’s and/or conservator’s appointment.

Sullivan v. DC, 829 A.2d 221 (DC 2003), pages 228-229

Fees - Can a guardian or conservator be paid?

In accordance with Superior Court, Probate Division Rule 308, both are entitled to reasonable compensation for services rendered. A fee petition must be filed.

Fees - Can a petitioner be reimbursed for legal fees paid to file a Petition for a General Proceeding?

Yes, if the Court finds the Petition for a General Proceeding to be meritorious and approves the request. The request must be approved by the Court before the fees are reimbursed. Failure to obtain prior Court approval could result in removal. It is recommended that a petition for compensation completed by counsel accompany any petition for approval of such an expenditure.

In re Randolph Brevard, Sr., 2011 INT 44, 8-5-11 order; In re Leon M. Stanard, 2011 INT 20, May 26, 2011 order

Fees - Can I file a petition for fees even when I am entitled to commissions?

Yes. A guardian who is an attorney may file a petition for reasonable attorney’s fees for preparing pleadings filed with the Court and for other necessary legal services rendered.

Fees - Can I get reimbursed for out of pocket expenses?

Yes, if you file a petition for reimbursement, and the expenses are approved by the Court.

Fees - Can payment for mileage be claimed?

Yes, the Court may, in its discretion, approve compensation for mileage within the Washington, DC, Metropolitan area if the claim is reasonable. Travel time and mileage must be detailed separately in the petition for compensation and cannot be included in the service rendered at the destination. The date, time, distance traveled, location, and the purpose of the travel must be stated. The Court rate for mileage is currently 51 cents per mile, the rate paid to attorneys on the CCAN and CJA panels.

See In re Brenda J. Wilson and In re Irene Mason, 139 WLR 2753 (DC Superior Court, December 27, 2011); In re Alice Bush, 2008 INT 286, 2-3-12 order; In re Fred T. Darson, 2011 INT 328, 1-12-12 order; In re Robert Washington, 2008 INT 79, 1-12-12 order; In re Ruby McDougald, 2008 INT 63, 1-12-12 order

Fees - Can payment for travel time and mileage to and from Court be claimed?

Travel time and mileage to and from Court is not compensated in accordance with the practice in CCAN and CJA cases.

See In re Brenda J. Wilson and In re Irene Mason, 139 WLR 2753 (DC Superior Court, December 27, 2011); In re Alice Bush, 2008 INT 286, 2-3-12 order; In re Fred T. Darson, 2011 INT 328, 1-12-12 order; In re Robert Washington, 2008 INT 79, 1-12-12 order; In re Ruby McDougald, 2008 INT 63, 1-12-12 order

Fees - Can payment for travel time be claimed?

Yes, the Court may, in its discretion, approve compensation for ordinary travel time within the Washington, DC, Metropolitan area if the claim is reasonable. Travel time must be detailed separately in the petition for compensation and cannot be included in the service rendered at the destination. The date, time, distance traveled, location, and the purpose of the travel must be stated. Travel time must be in tenths of an hour. Travel time from an office outside the Washington, DC, Metropolitan area may not be compensable.

See In re Brenda J. Wilson and In re Irene Mason, 139 WLR 2753 (DC Superior Court, December 27, 2011); In re Alice Bush, 2008 INT 286, 2-3-12 order; In re Fred T. Darson, 2011 INT 328, 1-12-12 order; In re Robert Washington, 2008 INT 79, 1-12-12 order; In re Ruby McDougald, 2008 INT 63, 1-12-12 order; In re Joyce Bradshaw/In re Yvonne Sewell, 2000 INT 177 & 2011 INT 240, 2-9-12 order

Fees - Do I file a petition for turnover commission?

No. A petition for turnover commission is not ordinarily required. Note the following exceptions: (1) If the guardianship terminates because of the guardian’s death, resignation, or incapacity, a statement of services shall be filed in support of the turnover commission claims. (2) If within three years of the guardian’s appointment, a guardianship terminates because of the minor’s death or attainment of the age of majority, and if the assets to be turned over exceed $100,000.00, the guardian shall file a statement of service in support of the turnover commission claimed or apply for a waiver of the statement of services by filing a written request with the Court. Note that pursuant to Superior Court, Probate Division Rule 225(h), the Court may, at any time, require a statement of services to determine an appropriate commission in any particular case.

Fees - Does a petition for compensation need to be filed when an attorney is retained by a petitioner and paid from the petitioner’s funds?

No. If an attorney is retained by a petitioner and the petitioner pays the attorney with petitioner’s own funds, no petition for compensation is necessary.

In re Grealis, In re Irma Sams, In re Mary Nazarczuk, 902 A.2d 821; 2006 DC App. LEXIS 414, 03-PR-963, 03-PR-965, 04-PR-169, DCC.A., 7-13-06 (2002 INT 359, 2002 INT 225, 1999 INT 205)

Fees - How am I able to track the status of a payment award which has been ordered to be paid from the Guardianship Fund?

Shortly after receipt of an order awarding payment of compensation or fees from the Guardianship Fund, you may track the status of the payment by logging onto the DC Court Web Voucher System

Fees - How do I prepare a petition requesting compensation?

There is no form for this pleading for most requests for compensation due to the specific requirements that pertain to the role of the petitioner. However, there is a Petition for Compensation of Visitor or Examiner, and detailed information about what needs to be contained in a petition requesting compensation is in included in Superior Court, Probate DivisionRule 308.

Fees - How does one obtain payment from the Guardianship Fund?

A petition requesting compensation from the Guardianship Fund must be filed to obtain a court order authorizing such compensation.

Fees - How is a guardian compensated?

Pursuant to Superior Court, Probate Division Rule 225(a), a guardian may elect to claim an ordinary commission in an interim account for ordinary services rendered not to exceed 5% of the amounts disbursed from the estate of the minor. The commission cannot be paid until the account is approved. Pursuant to Superior Court, Probate Division Rule 225(d), for final accounts, a guardian may elect to claim ordinary and turnover commissions in an amount not to exceed 5% of the net assets to be turned over to the minor who has now emancipated. The amount or percentage requested need only be reflected in the account.

Fees - How soon does the court consider a petition for compensation?

Petitions for compensation are generally considered by the Court within 60 days of filing.

Fees - If a court order has been issued awarding fees, payment is not received, and more than 30 days have passed since the order was signed, what should be done?

Call the Auditing Branch Deputy Clerk at (202) 879-9419, and explain the situation. Do not call the Budget and Finance Division.

Fees - If a petitioner hires a doctor and/or social worker to examine the subject to provide testimony at the initial hearing, must a fee petition covering their fees be filed?

Yes, if the doctor or social worker is seeking payment from the subject’s assets or the guardianship fund. See Petition for Compensation of Visitor or Examiner.

Fees - Must a petition for compensation be served on other parties before it can be filed with the court?

Yes, pursuant to Superior Court, Probate Division Rule 308(c)(4), a petition for compensation may not be filed with the court unless it has been served at least twenty (20) calendar days prior to the filing of the petition. The petition shall be accompanied by a certificate of service showing compliance with the requirement.

Fees - Once the request is approved, how is payment effected?

After a court order is issued approving the petition for compensation, payment is effected in collaboration with the Budget & Finance Division.

Fees - What are the potential sources of payment of fees?

The estate assets, if sufficient, or the Guardianship Fund, if the ward’s assets would otherwise be depleted. In rare cases, the Court has awarded fees from a third-party petitioner when a petitioner has failed to follow through after filing an intervention petition.

Henok Araya v. Aida Keleta and Frances Hom, 24 A.2d 665; 2011 DC App. LEXIS 466; 09-PR-1561, DCC.A., 7-14-11 (2009 INT 261)

Fees - What does it mean for an estate to be depleted for purpose of payment from the Guardianship Fund?

DC Code, sec. 21-2060, as amended in October 2008, provides a presumption of depletion when the person or ward:Qualifies for federal SSI under Title XVI of the Social Security Act Qualifies for Medicaid or Medicaid expansion programs as allowed by federal, state, or local programs Qualifies for other means-tested public assistance programs as allowed by federal, state, or localrequirements including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Interim Disability AssistFood Stamps, and DC Healthcare Alliance Qualifies for federal disability benefitsH as been found to be unable to pay for habitation, care, or legal services by any branch of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia I f none of the above, the person or ward may establish by affidavit or other proof satisfactory to the Court the inability to pay any costs without substantial financial hardship to himself or herself or his or her family

Additional guidance is provided in the case annotations to the statutory provision. See In re Lizzie Mitchell, 121 WLR 541 (Super. Ct. 1993).

Fees - What if the petition for compensation is being filed late?

A motion for leave to late file the petition for compensation can be filed. The original petition for compensation must be attached. There is a $20.00 filing fee for the motion (by check payable to the “Register of Wills”).

Fees - What information must the petition for compensation contain?

The petition should describe the services provided, state the amount requested, be supported by a detailed statement of services, the dates provided, and the time that each service took (rounded to no more than a tenth of an hour), and be accompanied by a proposed order with envelopes or mailing labels for every involved party. Refer to Superior Court, Probate Division Rule 308 for specific additional details regarding filing requirements and to Estate of Torchiana, 121 WLR 2477 (Super. Ct. 1993).

Fees - What is the hourly rate for payment from the Guardianship Fund?

For attorneys serving as a guardian, conservator, special conservator, guardian ad litem or visitothe current hourly rate is up to $90.00 per hour.For participants in the Non-Lawyer Pilot Program serving as a guardian, conservator or special conservator, the current hourly rate is up to $80.00 per hour.For other non-attorneys appointed by the court to serve as guardian, conservator or special conservator, the rate is generally determined by the Court, which could be based upon a customary employed hourly rate of the fiduciary, but not to exceed the cap prescribed for payment from the Guardianship Fund. Generally, the hourly rate has been from $10 to $25.For medical doctors appointed by the court to serve as an examiner and make a capacity assessment, the current hourly rate is up to $100 per hour.

For all other health care professionals serving as an examiner, the current hourly rate is up to $75.00 per hour.

For non-lawyers appointed by the court as a visitor, who conduct a special, independent investigation into specific issues raised by the petition, the current hourly rate is up to $80.00 per hour.

Fees - What is the timeframe for filing a fee petition?

DC Code, sec 21-2060 and Superior Court, Probate Division Rule 308 contain more specific information. Superior Court, Probate Division Rule 308(c)(3) requires the filing of an interim petition for compensation for establishing a guardianship or conservatorship or entry of a protective order promptly upon conclusion of the hearing establishing the guardianship, conservatorship, or protective arrangement but not later than 90 days thereafter.Superior Court, Probate Division Rule 308(c)(2) restricts conservators to filing petitions for compensation either with the annual account or prior to its approval.Superior Court, Probate Division Rule 308(c)(1) restricts guardians to filing petitions for compensation no later than 30 days from the anniversary date of the guardian’s appointment. A guardian’s final petition for compensation must be filed no later than 60 days after termination of the guardianship.

Fees - What is the timeframe for objecting, who is served, and is there a fee?

Objections to the petition for compensation must be filed with the Register of Wills and a copy thereof served on the petitioner, all parties, and anyone who has filed an effective request for notice within 20 calendar days of the mailing to you of the petition for compensation. There is a filing fee of $25.00.

Fees - What other documents should be filed with the petition for compensation?

An attorney petitioner must also file a certificate pursuant to Administrative Order 04-06. Non-lawyer fiduciaries must file an affidavit pursuant to Administrative Order 04-07.

Fees - What steps are followed to obtain payment from the Guardianship Fund?

After a court order authorizing payment from the Guardianship Fund has been issued, payment is made by the General Services Administration. The Budget and Finance Division requires every participant in the Guardianship Fund program to complete a Request to Establish Vendor File. This request form must be mailed or returned by hand to 616 H Street, NW, Suite 600.19, Washington, DC 20001. Faxed copies will not be accepted, and the form must have an original signature or it will not be processed. A Direct Deposit form can be completed at the same time.

Fees - When can fee petitions be filed?

A fee petition for a guardian should be filed no later than 30 days from the anniversary date of the guardian’s appointment. For example, if you were appointed on March 1, the fee petition should be filed every year on or before April 1. The final fee petition should be filed no later than 60 days after termination of the guardianship. A fee petition for a conservator should be filed either with the annual account or at any time before approval of an annual account that has already been filed. The final fee petition of a conservator should be filed no later than 30 days after the filing of the final account. Interim petitions for establishing a guardianship or conservatorship should be filed promptly after the hearing and no later than 90 days after the hearing. See Superior Court, Probate Division Rule 308.

Fees - When will my fee petition be decided by the court?

Unless the fee petition is filed with an account, it will generally be decided by the Court within 60 days. A fee petition that is filed with an account is forwarded to Court when the account has been audited and is ready for Court approval.

Fees - Who decides how much is paid from the Guardianship Fund?

The decision whether to award payment from the Guardianship Fund and how much to award is made by a judge? See In re Ruth M. Tolliver-Woody, 1999 INT 257, 6-11-12 order, in which the Court applies a percentage reduction to a fee request.

Fees - Who is eligible for payment from the Guardianship Fund?

A visitor, an attorney, an examiner, a conservator, a special conservator, a guardian ad litem, or a guardian in an intervention (INT or IDD) case involving an incapacitated adult may be paid from the Guardianship Fund if the court so orders. Money from the Guardianship Fund is not available in decedent’s estates (ADM), guardianships of the estates of minors (GDN), former law conservatorships (CON), and trusts (TRP).

Fees - Who is served with the petition for compensation?

Pursuant to Superior Court, Probate Division Rule 308(d), any petition for compensation that includes services provided at the initial hearing is served, together with the Notice of Petition for Compensation, on all interested parties, including (1) the subject, ward, or protected individual, (2) a Court-appointed examiner, (3) a Court-appointed visitor, (4) a Court-appointed guardian ad litem, (5) counsel for the subject, (6) any person who has been granted permission to participate, (7) any person who has filed an effective request for notice, and (8) any other person as directed by the Court. The appointment of an examiner, visitor, guardian ad litem, and counsel for the subject and the party status of a petitioner who is not a ward and of any person who has been granted permission to participate terminate after the Court rules on the petition for a general proceeding unless otherwise ordered by the Court. These persons should not be served with subsequent fee petitions unless later appointed or re-appointed by the Court.

Fees -Can I file a petition for fees even when I am entitled to commissions?

Yes. A guardian who is an attorney may file a petition for reasonable attorney’s fees for preparing pleadings filed with the Court and for other necessary legal services rendered.