A Guardian Ad Litem, or GAL, is not really a guardian, but is instead someone (usually an attorney) hired to be “the eyes and ears of the judge”. A GAL is appointed to protect the interests of vulnerable persons, such as the elderly, or minors, who may have an interest in a court proceeding. The GAL is usually required to visit at the home of that vulnerable person, to find out the true “on the ground” facts behind a Petition, and to report to the Probate Judge.
Because the Judge is not going to make that visit him/herself, they are likely to rely heavily on the GAL’s opinion. As a result, “the care and feeding” of a GAL is important. GAL’s must be handled with kid gloves, because they can sink your position, in front of the Probate Judge. I know how to handle GAL’s, when I represent Petitioners or Respondents in Probate matters, and in fact, I have served as a GAL in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties, on many occasions.
One last thought about GAL’s: they have to be paid. While you did not request the appointment of a GAL, you will be relying on a favorable GAL report, in order to get the relief you want (or do not want, as the case may be). Accordingly, if you represent the Guardianship, Conservatorship, or Decedent’s Estate, you will have to keep in mind that you may be required to pay the GAL (no matter how unfavorable the GAL is to your position).