If a person is not able to care for themselves, due to age or disability, guardianship may be the best solution. Guardianship allows a trusted friend or family member to make medical, legal, and financial decisions for the individual in question. A Chicago Guardianship Attorney in Illinois can help you understand your options and prepare the necessary documents.
Guardianships are established by court orders when a disabled adult or child’s parents are unable to provide for them. Usually, the parents of the incapacitated person have designated in a will or living trust who they want to be their child’s or adult’s guardian. However, in some cases, this is not possible and the courts must step in.
A guardian is responsible for the well-being of their ward and must regularly update the court regarding their ward’s status. The guardian must be able to provide basic needs, including food, clothing, shelter and medicine. They must also be able to manage the protected person’s finances, pay bills and invest their assets. Court approval is needed to spend or sell any of the protected person’s assets.
Typically, a family member, close friend or acquaintance is the chosen guardian. Guardianship over a minor child is often granted to a sibling or grandparent of the child. In some cases, it is granted to a third party who has the child’s best interest in mind, such as a neighbor or school teacher. An heir of an estate may need a guardian to manage their affairs and ensure that the inheritance is preserved until they are able to assume responsibility for themselves.
When a petition for guardianship is filed, the alleged incapacitated person or “respondent” must be served with summons and a copy of the petition. The respondent must be allowed to hire an attorney, if they wish, or be represented by a special advocate called a guardian ad litem. The guardian ad litem acts as the “eyes and ears” of the court and interviews the respondent, informs them of their rights, investigates the situation and advocates for their best interests before the judge. The qualifications of the guardian ad litem vary from state to state, but can include volunteer social workers, attorneys, and other professionals.
The Court will determine whether the proposed guardian is a good choice to take on this responsibility. The court will review the background of the applicant, including criminal records, and interview the respondent. If there are any other interested parties, the court will consider their views as well.
A felony conviction typically disqualifies a person from becoming a guardian, but the court will consider other factors such as the nature and date of the crime and evidence of rehabilitation. The court will also determine the extent of a person’s incapacity and their ability to manage their own affairs. This information will be used to decide what type of guardianship to establish and how the guardian is to be supervised. Guardianships may be permanent or temporary, and the person’s rights are protected even if they regain capacity at a later date.