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Guardian Ad Litem Assistance


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Guardian Ad Litem Services in Michigan

Injured Minor in Michigan? Minors Receiving Substantial Settlement Funds?

ATTORNEYS: Call Jon Frank For Experienced GAL Assistance

MCR 2.420 Requires Appointment of a GAL -- Get Your Case Positioned for Quick & Smooth Court Approvals

What Is A "Guardian Ad Litem" (GAL) & Why Do I Need To Care?

A "Guardian Ad Litem", or GAL, is a technical-sounding, legalese term, referring to someone appointed by a Court, usually to review the fairness of some type of Probate Court Petition, or a settlement, a distribution, which could be in Probate, Circuit, or District Court.

A "Guardian Ad Litem" is really not a "Guardian", in the Probate Court sense of someone appointed to look out on a long-term basis, for someone else's medical, housing, and other personal interests.  A GAL is sometimes referred to as "the eyes and ears of the Court", and instead of serving as Guardian for another individual, the GAL investigates the merits of a Petition, settlement, distribution, etc., and then sends a report to the appointing Judge, to tell them whether they believe the Petition or other request should be granted or denied, in full or in part.

MCR 2.420 governs the appointment of GAL's in situations involving a settlement on behalf of a minor, or a legally incapacitated person.  This Court Rule requires the appointment of a GAL, where the minor/incapacitated person's representative also has a claim, and the settlement allocates money to both persons; the Court needs input on the issue of whether that is fair or appropriate.  Let's use an example to illustrate the application of MCR 2.420, and the appointment of a GAL.

EXAMPLE: Father is killed in an auto accident, and a Wrongful Death action is filed.  The parties settle, and the proposed distribution has money going both to the surviving spouse (aka Mother), and to their 7 year old son.  A GAL will be appointed to represent the interests of the minor child, to ensure that the allocation of money to him v. that which was allocated to Mother, is fair.

I have served as a Court-Appointed Guardian Ad Litem, in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb County Probate Courts.  Additionally, I have been requested by various Michigan attorneys to serve as a GAL, and have had those requests honored by local judges.

My Job As GAL

My job as the GAL, is to determine the fairness of the Petition, settlement, distribution, etc.  I will report to the Court on my opinions on those subjects.  While in theory, a personal visit is not required, either by MCR 2.420 or by MCR 5.121 (the Probate Court Rule dealing with Guardians Ad Litem, or GAL's), I have found it to be a good practice.  Sometimes I pick up on facts, which bear on my work as a GAL, that is not evident from the Motions/Petitions to Approve Settlement.

Recently, I paid a visit to a young man, permanently incapacitated in an auto accident; his attorneys settled a No-Fault claim, in which most of the money was used to pay doctors' bills, but some of the money was used to pay the mother for "attendant care" services she provided to her son.  I learned that she intended to use this money to help purchase a home, which could be modified (at the expense of the no-fault insurance company), to make it accessible for her now-incapacitated son.  For this and other reasons, I issued a report, endorsing the fairness of the settlement, and it was promptly approved by the Court.

Dealing With Someone Else as GAL

Sometimes, a GAL is appointed, and we are the folks who have to deal with that court-appointed GAL. Remember, GAL's are usually appointed from a list of attorneys known to the presiding Judge, and that Judge will often lend great credence to the findings the GAL makes in his/her report. There is nothing to be gained, by making a GAL's life difficult (e.g., missed appointments, strained communications on sensitive subjects, etc.) GAL's need to be "handled" deftly, and appropriately.

Thus, if a GAL is appointed on one of our cases, I will handle communications with the GAL, until he/she tells me they need to contact you.  At that point, I will advise you closely, on how best to deal with the GAL in your situation.  Any attorney should do that, for his/her client; if yours does not do that, ask them why they do not.

In any event, once you are properly prepared, you will know how best to deal with the GAL, in your case.

GAL's Bill For Their Work

This is often a bitter pill to swallow; with all of the costs of litigation, that come off the top of a settlement, here comes someone else, with "their palms turned up".  Sometimes, the GAL is appointed by the Probate Court, yet the bill still comes.  In past times, local probate courts paid for GAL billings at low rates set by the particular courts; however, with governmental budgets being as tight as they are, many local courts require a GAL to bill "the estate" (be it a Guardianship, Conservatorship, or Decedent's Estate), where they think that estate has money to pay the GAL.  Unfortunately, it is inevitable, when a Court appoints a GAL.

Obviously, you will want to make sure that the GAL bills fairly for their work.  When I serve as a GAL, I issue an itemized billing, either to the Probate Court "fiduciary" (Guardian, Conservator, or Estate Personal Representative), or to the attorney making the distribution of a Circuit Court settlement.

GAL Services For Other Attorneys

I have been a personal injury attorney since 1987, handling all types of accident claims, including No-Fault insurance matters.  I will do my utmost to help facilitate your settlements, where I can.

Give me a call, Jon Frank, at (586) 727-1900, or email me at jon@jonfranklaw.com.

Settling A Claim For A Minor? Do You/Your Attorney Have a GAL Appointed?

Call Jon Frank Immediately For Expert GAL Assistance

Guardian Ad Litem Services. Understand Your Rights in Michigan.

A "Guardian Ad Litem", or GAL, is a technical-sounding, legalese term, referring to someone appointed by a Court, usually to review the fairness of some type of Probate Court Petition, or a settlement, a distribution, which could be in Probate, Circuit, or District Court.
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The Client Bill of Rights

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Client Bill of Rights

  1. 100% Client Satisfaction Guarantee
  2. 48-Hour Open Door Policy
  3. The Lawyer You Hire Is The Lawyer Who Works on Your Case
  4. Candid Explanations in Plain Simple English
  5. An Idea Where Your Case is Heading
  6. One-Day Returned Phone Call/E-Mail/Text Policy
  7. Cell Phone Access to Your Lawyer
  8. Constant Immediate Updating
  9. You Have A Right to A Lawyer Who Will Respect Nos. 1-8 Above

Being a client sucks. It is a terrible and anxious experience, and I know, because I am not only a lawyer, but I have been a client before, myself. It can be awful, and the lawyer you hire should not make it worse.

Because different lawyers do different work, the problems that bring you to a lawyer will vary. However, one thing is in common: you have to put yourself and a highly sensitive problem into the hands of another person.  It means that there is a loss of control. A cloud hanging over your head.

Just you hire me to protect your rights, you have rights THAT EVERY LAWYER SHOULD BE WILLING TO PROTECT.  

I AM.

CLIENT BILL OF RIGHTS

1. 100% Client Satisfaction Guarantee

You have a right to be satisfied, and soon, that I am hard at work on your matter, and that your case is not “just another case”, but it is my cause.  I cannot guarantee outcomes of personal injury, criminal, or other court matters.  

However, if you are not completely satisfied within the first 30 days, or before the first Court appearance, whichever is sooner, that I am working hard on your case, then you can come get your file, or I will send it to you, and you can go hire another lawyer. 

YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO BE COMPLETELY SATISFIED THAT I AM WORKING HARD ON YOUR MATTER, AND THAT YOUR CASE IS MY CAUSE.  

2. 48-Hour Open Door Policy

If you feel that you need to sit down with me face-to-face to discuss your case, I WILL CLEAR MY SCHEDULE, SETTING ASIDE TIME TO MEET WITH YOU IN MY OFFICE.  Even if I am in the middle of trial, I will meet with you within 48 hours. 

YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO MEET WITH ME AT MY OFFICE, WITHIN 48 HOURS OF YOUR REQUEST, AND TO EXPECT ME TO CLEAR MY SCHEDULE, TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN.

3. The Lawyer You Hire Is The Lawyer Who Works on Your Case 

When you hire Jon Frank and The Frank Law Firm, PC, you hire Jon Frank.  You will not be shunted off to associates who are off-camera, and whose faces do not appear on websites, or TV advertising.  I am the lawyer who will answer your calls.

YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO EXPECT THAT THE LAWYER YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING TO HIRE, IS THE ONE WHO IS ACTUALLY WORKING ON YOUR CASE.

4. Candid Explanations in Plain Simple English

Personal injury, no-fault, and criminal matters, while commonly settled “out of court”, are ultimately matters decided “in court”, and therefore, no guarantees can be made as to outcome.  Anyone who says otherwise, is not being truthful with you. 

So, too, where you hire me to deed a property into trust, handle a probate matter, or anything else that I might do as your lawyer, there is a process that we must follow, and as the “paying customer”, you are entitled to understand just what that process is.

These are often complex matters that need to be explained to you, by your lawyer.  Not only should your lawyer GLADLY explain the process to you, your lawyer should explain to you, in plain simple English – without formal, condescending “legalese”.

Not every lawyer is willing to give their client a full and candid explanation, for good or ill, and in plain simple English, of just what is going on with their case.

I AM.

THEREFORE, YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS GOING ON WITH YOUR CASE, AND TO KEEP ASKING ME TO EXPLAIN IT, UNTIL YOU DO UNDERSTAND. 

Lawyers are paid to provide a service, and should not complain, when their clients ask for the service they have paid for.

5. An Idea Where Your Case is Heading 

As I just mentioned, there is a process that your matter will follow, from start to finish.  One of the biggest causes of client stress, is not knowing just what that process is – ahead of time.  Knowing what road you will be taking, makes the trip easier, not just as a traveler on an Interstate, but also as a client in a legal matter. 

THEREFORE, YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW IN ADVANCE, WHERE YOUR CASE IS HEADING, AS TO:

6. One-Day Returned Phone Call/E-Mail/Text Policy 

If it is important enough for you to reach out to me, to call, e-mail, or text, it is important enough for me to return the communication, and to do so promptly. 

YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO EXPECT ME WITHIN ONE BUSINESS DAY, TO:

7. Cell Phone Access to Your Lawyer

You have just hired me to help you through one of the most sensitive, gut-wrenching episodes you will ever have in your life, as long as you live. 

One of the deepest expressions of trust, one human being can give another, is to be vulnerable enough to ask for help.  By hiring me as your lawyer, that is what you have done.  Therefore, I make a point of giving my clients my cell phone number, so that they can contact me, day or night, 24/7/365, by phone or text message

While you ARE WELCOME TO MY CELL PHONE NUMBER, I have enabled my land lines, (586) 727-1900 and (877) FRANK-LAW (372-6552) to receive text messages. While I may not always be available to talk, I want to make it easy for you to contact me; if I am not readily available, I will get back to you, often within minutes or hours, but always within one business day.

YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO MY CELL PHONE NUMBER, AND TO HAVE ACCESS TO ME 24/7/365 BY CELL PHONE AND TEXT MESSAGE.  

8. Constant Immediate Updating 

It is bad enough to have to put your life in someone else’s hands.  When you have to put your life into my hands, you have an absolute right to be kept updated as to the progress of your matter.  My policy is to send a copy to you, by email, of all correspondence I send to other people (lawyers, insurance companies, prosecutors, police agencies, etc.).  

Receiving copies by email, will enable you to see what I am doing on your case, as I am doing it.

I will send you email copies, usually by “blind copy”, to protect your email privacy; sometimes, I will forward to you, a previously sent email. If you do not have email, then I will send you copies of outgoing correspondence, by regular mail. 

YOU HAVE AN ABSOLUTE RIGHT TO BE COPIED ON ALL OUTGOING CORRESPONDENCE ON YOUR MATTER, BY E-MAIL, OR BY REGULAR MAIL, WHEN THAT CORRESPONDENCE IS BEING SENT.

9. You Have A Right To A Lawyer Who Will Respect Nos. 1-8 Above 

If you are looking for a lawyer who can help guide you through your injury matter to a great recovery, at the earliest possible time, or someone who can help protect your rights in a drunk driving, or criminal matter, you have a right to a lawyer who will respect these rights you have as a client.

As a client, you should never have to worry or wonder if your lawyer cares about your rights as a client, or whether they respect you as a human being.  You deserve, and have a right to a lawyer, who will do both.

TEXT OR CALL ME, Jon Frank, at 877-FRANK-LAW, or at (586) 727-1900, if you want me to protect your rights as a citizen – and as a client.  You can email me as well, at jon@jonfranklaw.com.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Frequently Asked Guardian Ad Litem Services Questions. Michigan Based Legal Answers.

Do I Really Have To Deal With A Guardian Ad Litem? Isn't This Just Going To Cost Me Money?

Nobody "wants" a Guardian Ad Litem, or GAL on their case; they get appointed by judges, and yes, you may well be forced to deal with a Guardian Ad Litem, or GAL.  This is especially true, if there is a minor, or incapacitated person involved... Load complete answer.

Nobody "wants" a Guardian Ad Litem, or GAL on their case; they get appointed by judges, and yes, you may well be forced to deal with a Guardian Ad Litem, or GAL.  This is especially true, if there is a minor, or incapacitated person involved.

If you must deal with a GAL on your case, you need to learn to deal DIPLOMATICALLY with this person, who got appointed, because the judge wanted/respects that GAL's opinion. That GAL could be the difference between getting what you want in court, and falling short. The GAL will charge for their services, and you might be responsible for paying those fees, like it or not.

My "rule of thumb" is that if a case requires the appointment of a GAL, you would do well to have your own lawyer on that same case (if only to manage communications with the GAL, to put your case in its best light).

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How Can A Lawyer Help Me If A Judge Orders A GAL On My Case?

GAL's are always appointed to be "the eyes and ears of the Court"; as I often say, "the Judge isn't coming out to see you, to determine how to rule.  She/he is sending me (or the GAL, if that is someone else).".. Load complete answer.

GAL's are always appointed to be "the eyes and ears of the Court"; as I often say, "the Judge isn't coming out to see you, to determine how to rule.  She/he is sending me (or the GAL, if that is someone else)."

Because judges often simply incorporate the findings of the GAL, into their formal court orders, "the care and feeding" of GAL's is most important.  You want to get the GAL on your side, and so you need to know how to communicate to him/her, what information to get to them, when, etc.

You also do not want to alienate the GAL, or make them think your position is dishonest, or lacks merit in any other respect. I have served as a GAL in both Probate and Circuit Court matters, in Michigan, and I can help you navigate your case to a successful conclusion.

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