As an adult child, making the decision to seek guardianship over a parent is usually a heart-wrenching process, and one that can leave you riddled with guilt. The idea of becoming a parent’s Guardian often seems like it is akin to taking away a parent’s independence. It is important, however, to look at your decision from another perspective. If you believe your parent needs a Guardian, and you fail to step up and become that Guardian, your parent could serious irreparable physical, mental, or financial harm. Once you have committed to seeking guardianship of your parent, the next step is to begin the petition process. So you know what to expect, the guardianship attorneys at Hedeker Law, Ltd. explain how to petition for guardianship in Illinois.
What Is Adult Guardianship?
When a person reaches the age of majority (18), the law presumes that he/she is capable of making decisions and effectively holds the individual responsible for the consequences of those decisions. Sometimes, however, an adult is not mentally capable of making sound decisions. Sometimes this is because of disability that was present from the time of birth or early childhood. At the other end of the spectrum, many adults lose their decision-making capacity as a result of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s. When that happens, someone may need to step in and make decisions for the individual to prevent injury or victimization. Adult guardianship is the legal term used to describe a relationship wherein one adult is granted the legal authority to make decisions for another adult who has been adjudicated, by a court, to be disabled. In the State of Illinois, a guardian may be appointed to serve as a substitute decision maker if a person is disabled because of:
- mental deterioration,
- physical incapacity,
- mental illness, or
- developmental disability
Types of Guardianship in Illinois
Because guardianship is considered the most restrictive option available when an adult needs assistance or protection, a court will only appoint a Guardian when other options are insufficient and will only grant a Guardian the authority necessary to protect the disabled individual and/or the estate. The types of guardianship that might be ordered in Illinois include:
- Guardian of the person — appointed by the court when a disabled individual cannot make or communicate responsible decisions regarding his personal care. This guardian will make decisions about medical treatment, residential placement, social services and other needs.
- Guardian of the estate — may be appropriate when a disabled person is unable to make or communicate responsible decisions regarding the management of his estate or finances. The guardian will, subject to court supervision, make decisions about the ward’s funds and the safeguarding of the ward’s income or other assets.
- Temporary Guardian – if there is an emergency situation requiring a guardian to be appointed before the hearing on the guardianship petition can be completed, the court can appoint a temporary guardian.
If the court deems it necessary, you could be appointed as both the Guardian of the Person and Guardian of the Estate.
Petitioning for Guardianship
Before beginning the guardianship process you must obtain a report certifying that the person is disabled and needs a guardian. The report should be completed and signed by a licensed physician and any other professionals who are familiar with the person with disabilities. For the court to consider the petition for guardianship, the report must contain very specific information as specified in the Illinois Probate Act. The petition should then be filed in the county where the disabled person is a resident. Notice of the filing of the petition must be given to the disabled individual as well as close family members, all of whom may object to the appointment of a Guardian. The court may also appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to interview the Respondent (the disabled person) and report back to the court. The court will set the petition for a hearing at which time you may have to present a witness, depending on the county you are in and whether or not anyone has objected. AT the end of the hearing the judge will decide whether or not a Guardian is warranted and, if so, which type and whether you are qualified to be appointed as Guardian.
Contact Illinois Guardianship Attorneys
Please join us for a FREE estate planning seminar. If you have questions or concerns regarding guardianship in the State of Illinois, contact the experienced guardianship attorneys at Hedeker Law, Ltd. by calling (847) 913-5415 to schedule an appointment.