Guardianships

A guardian is a person or institution appointed by the court to manage the affairs of another. Guardianships are commonly used for individuals who are incapable of making personal and/or financial decisions. Guardianship is not something that most people plan for, but it can be an essential protection if someone cannot take care of themselves or their property. Call the Law Office of James C. Siebert & Associates, P.C. /Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys of Illinois, P.C. at (847)253-7500 today to schedule an appointment with an experienced Guardianship Attorney.

Normally, guardianship proceedings are a last resort. The need for guardianship proceedings can be avoided through effective Estate Planning and the use of Durable Powers of Attorney and Living Trusts. The courts are hesitant to appoint a guardian unless absolutely necessary, because, when a guardian is appointed, people lose rights to make basic decisions about their life and property.

A guardianship provides essential protection where an individual fails to prepare planning documents such as Durable Powers of Attorney, and that individual later becomes incapacitated. This situation frequently occurs when a special needs child becomes an adult, or an older person loses the ability to make decisions due to dementia. To obtain a guardianship, someone must file a petition with the court explaining why the person needs a guardian, and who is qualified to be appointed. An examination by physician, psychologist, or psychiatrist must be attached to the Petition explaining the physical or psychological needs for guardianship. Notices of the proceeding are given to the individual and to others who are interested. A Guardian Ad Litem, who acts as the court’s eyes and ears, will be appointed and will interview the potential ward, review the circumstances of the situation, and report back to the judge. At the court hearing, a judge will hear evidence about why the person needs a guardian.

bigstock-Court-Room-7607785Generally a family member will be called upon to act as a guardian for another family member. However, a guardian can also be a friend or a professional guardian, such as a public guardian, a bank, or a not-for-profit agency. In the end, the court decides who will be guardian. The court also decides how much authority to give the guardian. A guardian might be appointed only to make decisions about living arrangements, personal needs and medical care. Alternatively, a guardian might be appointed only to make decisions about finances and property. Guardianship of the Person provides authority to make decisions regarding the health and well being of the person, including their medical care. Guardianship of the Estate provides authority make decisions related to the financial management of the person’s assets and income. The same person or agency could be appointed to make both types of decisions.

old woman looking at husband with concern 425 x 282If you are appointed as a guardian, the court’s order will tell you what decisions you are allowed to make. You may have just a few powers, or need to make most of the decisions on behalf of your ward. You must carefully understand the line between what you can decide and the rights that your ward retains. You must try to make choices based on the ward’s values and you should try to involve the ward in making decisions whenever possible.

Being guardian for someone else is a major undertaking. You will need to be in frequent contact with the court and your attorney to make sure you are properly acting on behalf of your ward. The Law Office of James C. Siebert & Associates, P.C. /Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys of Illinois, P.C. is able to assist you if guardianship proceedings are appropriate for someone you love, if someone who you believe to be inappropriate is seeking to be named guardian of your loved one or if someone is inappropriately seeking to be appointed your guardian.

Call the Law Office of James C. Siebert & Associates, P.C. /Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys of Illinois, P.C. at (847)253-7500 today to schedule an appointment with an experienced Guardianship Attorney.


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