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Using Guardianship Proceedings to Protect Your Elderly Loved One

Worried About Your Elderly Loved One?

Is your elderly loved one becoming more and more forgetful? Is he or she not thinking clearly? Are you concerned about their well-being and ability to care for themselves? Are they prone to financial exploitation?

It’s not so much that your loved one can’t live independently. It might be that he or she still drives to visit friends and family, and freely participates in community events and organizations. Yet, he or she suffers from diminished capacity and lacks 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.

If the person you are caring for is unable to make rational, clear-headed decisions about their health care, finances or other aspects of life, it may be time to seek legal guardianship to make sure your loved one is safe and to safeguard their quality of life. 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. Guardianship provides an additional layer of protection over the finances of elderly individuals.

In Illinois, there are two types of guardianship: (1) Guardian of the Person and (2) Guardian of the Estate. A “guardian of the person” is responsible for all personal decisions for the disabled adult, including any and all healthcare decisions. The guardian of the person may also place the disabled adult in a nursing home or other residential facility if the disabled adult requires such care. A guardian of the person must provide a report to the court about the disabled adult’s well-being, once per year.

A “guardian of the estate” is responsible for all business and financial decisions for the disabled adult. A guardian of the estate must provide an inventory of the disabled person’s assets and present an annual budget. Each year, the guardian of the estate must present to the court a detailed accounting. The detailed accounting must show each and every dollar spent from the disabled adult’s assets. A guardian of the estate may not be necessary if the disabled adult does not have income or financial assets.

Illinois recognizes that some disabled adults may be able to make basic decisions regarding their person. Therefore, a “limited guardianship” is available. A limited guardianship may be preferable as it promotes independence and self-reliance. A limited guardianship of the person and of the estate is possible. Whatever may be the case, or if it is not clear, a guardianship lawyer at Hays Firm has the extensive experience in guardianship and elder law and can help you and your loved ones make these difficult decisions.

Guardianship proceedings are complicated and involved, but for many families they provide the peace of mind that comes from knowing 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.