Submitted By: Mike
Answered: November 4, 2016 12:11 pm

I paid $15,000 in legal fees to obtain a conservatorship for my mother, who has schizophrenia and epilepsy. This was necessary so I could get her the medical treatment she needed. Can I deduct these fees?

Probably not. These likely are considered nondeductible personal expenses for you. Legal fees are usually deductible only if they are related to:

  • The collection of taxable income, such as legal fees to obtain back wages
  • The determination or collection of tax, such as legal fees to contest the IRS

While there are no cases or rulings on this point, it may be possible for the impaired person to treat the legal fees as a deductible medical expense if he or she itemizes deductions (e.g., the conservator or guardian incurs the fees to get the taxpayer committed to a medical facility or treatment). If the impaired person is another taxpayer’s dependent, then the costs would be treated as the taxpayer’s medical expenses.

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Tax Glossary

Itemized deductions

Items, such as interest, state and local income and sales taxes, charitable contributions, and medical deductions, claimed on Schedule A of Form 1040. Itemized deductions are subtracted from adjusted gross income to arrive at taxable income. The amount of itemized deductions is also subject to a reduction when adjusted gross income exceeds certain limits.

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