Guardianship Law in Illinois
An experienced Chicago guardianship lawyer is invaluable in guiding you through the confusing and difficult process of caring for your loved one when they can no longer care for themselves.
The term “guardianship” refers to the process whereby the court appoints a guardian for an individual. This appointment occurs only after the Court determines the individual can no longer make personal or financial decisions for themselves. If an individual does not have valid power of attorney documentation or a trust in place which describes what is to happen in the event of their disability, a guardianship proceeding will likely be necessary in order to protect their financial interests and ensure their well-being.
Establishing powers of a guardianship for a disabled adult is a document-intensive process. It generally also involves a variety of legal issues. The court continues to oversee the handling of the disabled person’s affairs after it appoints the guardian. However, the guardian will be required to continue to report to the Court. This reporting includes annual reports on the individual’s health, annual budgets, and any other issues that may arise.
There are three types of guardianship: (1) Guardianship of the Person; (2) Guardianship of the Estate; and (3) Limited Guardianship of Person or Estate. A guardian of the person makes personal and health care decisions for a disabled person who cannot make such decisions. A guardian of the estate makes financial and business decisions for a disabled person. A limited guardianship can be either of these but with restrictions, necessary if the disabled adult is able to make basic decisions about their person.
The guardianship process begins with the filing of a petition requesting that the court appoint a guardian for a disabled individual. Once filed, the court may appoint a “guardian ad litem” to investigate the matter. The guardian ad litem will contact the person or persons seeking to become guardians and meet with the disabled adult. The guardian ad litem will then submit a report to the judge that outlines his or her investigation on whether guardianship is necessary.
Next, there is a court hearing where the physician’s report will be presented to the court along with the guardian ad litem’s report. Please note that the disabled adult has many rights in guardianship court. For example, the disabled adult may obtain his or her own attorney for the guardianship proceedings. These rights are listed in writing and provided to the disabled adult prior to the hearing.
REVIEWING ESTATE PLANNING DOCUMENTS
Our attorneys will review all pertinent estate planning documents and help determine whether a guardianship is the correct course of action.
PREPARING PETITION FOR GUARDIANSHIP
Our attorneys will prepare the necessary petition, represent the guardian at the guardianship hearing and facilitate communication with the court-appointed guardian ad litem.
PERFORMING ALL ANNUAL REPORTING RELATED DUTIES
If you are appointed guardian of an estate, our attorneys will assist in the preparation and filing of the necessary documents regarding the estate assets and counsel you on transactions related to the estate.
TRUST SETTING UP & ADMINISTERING TRUSTS FOR A FAMILY MEMBER WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
Our attorneys will draft special needs trusts tailored to the person with special needs that is designed to manage assets for that person’s benefit while not compromising access to important government benefits.
ESTABLISHING GUARDIANSHIP FOR A MINOR
When a minor is the beneficiary of a settlement award and is due to receive funds from a lawsuit, our attorneys will help establish a guardianship to protect the minor’s funds from others until they turn 21 and can decide how they want to use their money.
ENDING THE GUARDIANSHIP ESTATE
Our attorneys will prepare the final account and petition for the formal discharge of the guardian at the end of the guardianship estate.
If you suspect abuse of a disabled adult or an elderly loved one, our guardianship lawyers will help you ascertain if power of attorney documents or other estate planning documents are in place and whether a guardian has been appointed. If there is a power of attorney in place, our attorneys will help you determine the appropriate course of action. We can help you develop a plan to protect your loved one from further abuse.
If you suspect the court-appointed guardian is abusing or exploiting the disabled adult, you may be able to file a motion in court to bring the suspected abuse to the court’s attention.
Because each case is different, we encourage you to contact our office and speak with one of our Chicago guardianship litigation attorneys. The course of action taken inside or outside of the courtroom will largely depend upon the situation you and your loved one are facing.
REVIEWING ALL DOCUMENTS
Our attorneys will review the power of attorney documents and the court file relating to guardianship proceedings to determine whether litigation is necessary and appropriate.
REMOVING THE GUARDIAN
Our attorneys will determine the appropriate course of action and initiate and prosecute the proceedings to remove the guardian if necessary.
Our attorneys will initiate and prosecute claims for an accounting by an agent under a power of attorney.
OBJECTION TO GUARDIANSHIP
Our attorneys will provide representation in court for persons objecting to a guardianship or the appointment of a certain individual to the role of guardian.
Establishing a guardianship estate for a friend or loved one is necessary when they can no longer handle their own personal and financial affairs and they have not executed any other documentation appointing an agent in the event of their disability. You will know that it is time to seek the court’s appointment of a guardian when financial and medical institutions no longer recognize your authority to act on behalf of your loved one and they cannot act for themselves.
OBTAINING COURT’S APPOINTMENT FOR GUARDIAN OF PERSON
Our attorneys represent clients in obtaining the court’s appointment as guardian of their friend or loved one.
PROVIDING REPORTING TO THE COURT IN ESTATE MATTERS
Our attorneys perform all duties related to providing annual reporting to the court regarding guardianship estate assets.
SPECIAL NEEDS TRUSTS
Our attorneys can set up a trust for a family member with special needs and ensure that the trust is properly administered.
ENDING THE GUARDIANSHIP ESTATE
When the guardianship estate has concluded, our guardianship attorneys will prepare the final account and petition for the formal discharge of the guardian.
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