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 or financial decisions. Guardianship is not something that most people plan for, but it can be essential protection if someone can’t take care of themselves or their property.
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 people lose their rights to make basic decisions about their life and property.
A guardianship provides essential protection when documents such as durable powers of attorney have not been put in place before an individual 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 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 a physician must be attached to the petition explaining the physical or psychological needs for guardianship. Notices of the proceeding are given to the individual and others who are interested. A Guardian Ad Litem, who acts as the court’s eyes and ears, will be appointed to 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.
Generally, a family member will act as a guardian for another family member. However, a guardian can also be a friend or a professional, such as a public guardian, a bank, or a not-for-profit agency. In the end, the court decides who will be guardian and how much authority to give them.
A Guardianship of the Person allows an appointed individual to make decisions about living arrangements, personal needs, and medical care. Alternatively, a Guardianship of the Estate is appointed to decide about finances and property. The same person or agency could be appointed to make both types of decisions.
If you are appointed as a guardian, the court’s order will tell you what decisions you are allowed to make. You must understand the line between what you can decide and the rights that your ward retains based on their values and needs. Being a guardian for someone else requires frequent contact with the court and your attorney at Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys of Illinois, LLC, to make sure you are acting in your ward’s best interests.
The experienced team at Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys of Illinois, LLC guides you in selecting the proper estate planning tools for your situation. Each attorney has unique skills in the broad field of estate planning, including long-term care planning, guardianship, estate and trust administration, and probate litigation in Illinois. Schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys to protect what matters for your family.
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