It is sometimes necessary to have a court appointed guardian for persons who are unable to manage their affairs themselves due to disability or minority. The individual who is in need or such decision making is referred to as the Ward. Guardianship is a court manifested responsibility where a petition must be filed with the court by an interested party. Assuming the role of guardian is both a serious and important step to the welfare of an individual. Our experienced and knowledgeable Chicago Guardianship Attorneys at Wilson & Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law LLC are here to assist you through the process.
There are two types of guardianship proceedings recognized in Illinois: Guardian of the Person and Guardian of the Estate. These matters are heard in Probate Court. Often times, people associate Probate Court with decedent’s estates only, and do not realize that guardianship matters are also heard there. Guardian of the Person, which as the name implies, handles the personal decisions of a person with a disability or minor. These decisions can involve choices for health care or basic care management. The Guardian of the Estate has the ability to handle the financial affairs of the person with a disability or minor. This would include paying bills, securing/protecting assets from waste, or applying for various financial benefits.
Adult Guardianships: Individuals over the age of eighteen are deemed capable of making their own health and financial decisions, unless the individual possesses a disability that prevents them from doing so. These disabilities can be both mental and/or physical. The mere fact that an individual is mentally disabled, developmentally disabled, or is elderly does not, by itself, indicate an individual’s need for a guardian. The court must make a determination on whether, and to what extent, and individual requires a guardian to make decisions for them, based on medical evaluations and reports.
Minor Guardianships: If the parents of a child die, or if a child has been abandoned, is inadequately cared for, or is abused, a probate court may appoint an adult, who is not the child's parent, to take care of the child or his or her property. The Probate Court can only grant a probate guardianship if the child is not involved in a Family court or Juvenile Court action. A guardian generally has the same responsibilities as a parent, and is responsible for the child's personal needs, including shelter, education, and medical care.
In order to act as an individual’s guardian in Illinois, the person must meet the following requirements:
- Be 18 years of age or older;
- Be of sound mind;
- Be a legal resident on the United States;
- Must not be legally disabled, and;
- Must not have a felony conviction that involved harm or threat to a minor or elderly person or a person with a disability.
Family members are not named legal guardians of their relatives by default. Ultimately, the court determines who shall serve as the Ward’s guardian. The Ward may express his or her preference as to who shall act as their guardian.
Petitioning for guardianship is a complex process that can be confusing for an individual who is not well-versed in this area of law. In addition to the complexities of the process, each county has their own individual requirements that add to the confusion of the process. However, here at Wilson & Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law LLC, we have years of experience in these courtrooms in Cook, DuPage, Will, and Lake counties. We take pride in guiding individuals through this procedure as painlessly as possible.
If you think one of your family members or loved ones might need a guardian, please contact us today. You can also call and schedule a consult with one of our guardianship attorneys at (708) 482-7090.