If you have a loved one who still lives independently but you believe that they are vulnerable to thieves and financial predators, guardianship may be appropriate to protect them. Hays Firm LLC has recently opened several guardianship estates for individuals who are still capable of living independently. One client still drives to visit friends and family. Another freely participates in community events and organizations. Yet, both individuals suffer from diminished capacity and lack sound judgment over financial matters. Because the individuals are living outside of a nursing home and independently from their families, they are even more vulnerable to exploitation. One can easily imagine a scenario in which these friendly outgoing individuals sign an exploitative contract or loan new “friends” thousands of dollars.
Importance of Filing for Guardianship
Guardianship provides an additional layer of protection over the finances of elderly individuals. During a guardianship proceeding, a probate judge declares that the elderly individual is incapable of making decisions regarding their financial affairs. The court then appoints a Guardian of the Estate to take care of the elderly person’s finances and property. The judge may also declare that the elderly individual is incapable of making decisions regarding their healthcare. If so, the judge will also appoint a Guardian of the Person to manage the individual’s healthcare. The Guardian of the Estate and Guardian of the Person can be the same individual. Or, the Guardian of the Estate may be an individual or an entity like a bank that is different from the individual serving as Guardian of the Person.
As long as the elderly person is alive, the Guardian of the Estate is required to present an annual accounting to the probate judge. The annual accounting provides the judge and any other interested parties the details of how the elderly person’s money was spent throughout the year. The Guardian of the Person is also required to present an annual report to the probate judge. In the annual report, the Guardian of the Person gives a brief summary of the elderly person’s life over the past year: where they live; if they moved; if there was a major health incident, etc. Both of these reports give the court a snapshot of the person’s well-being and the court will either accept these reports or reject the reports and order that other actions be taken for the wellbeing of the individual. Guardianship proceedings are complicated and involved, but for many families they provide the peace of mind that comes from know that an elderly loved one is being protected and well cared for.
The elder law attorneys at Chicago law firm of Hays Firm LLC are available to discuss the guardianship process with you and your elderly loved one. If you are concerned about your elderly loved one, we would be happy to explain how we can be of service to you.