The term “conservatorship” means the court process in which a person is appointed to manage the financial affairs of another person. After the court process, a “conservator” manages the business and financial affairs of another. A court-appointed conservator manages the financial affairs of a person who has become incapacitated due to any reason. The conservator supervises the financial matters on behalf of the conservatee who has suffered a debilitating injury, or disease such as dementia or Alzheimer’s.
In Illinois, the term conservator is not frequently used by the court. Instead, Illinois law refers to a “guardian of the estate.” The person who is disabled is called a “ward.” An Illinois guardian of the estate has the same rights and responsibilities as a conservator from another state.
Not many people are aware of what guardianship or conservatorship is and how a court process may affect their estate. Understanding the Illinois guardianship process is important to make the right decisions regarding estate planning. Below, we explain the process of creating a guardianship that manages an estate (or a “conservatorship”) in Illinois and will discuss about its pros and cons.
In Illinois, guardianship of the estate is created to manage financial affairs of a minor or an incapacitated adult. The level of responsibility assigned to the guardian varies depending on the condition of the conservatee or ward.
Appointment of a guardian of an estate is made after a court hearing. The court looks at the medical records and other matters to decide whether it’s in the best interest of the disabled person to appoint a guardian to manage that person’s business and financial affairs. The court also evaluates the proposed guardian’s capabilities in handling the affairs of the disabled person.
After the appointment, the guardian of the estate is monitored by the court and has to file annual reports regarding financial transactions. A court may change the appointed guardian in case the ward’s best interests are not taken into account when making financial decisions.
The main benefit of guardianship is that the court supervises the appointed conservator. The control is exercised throughout the conservatorship process. The continuous monitoring ensures that the guardianship takes the actions that benefit the minor or the debilitated adult. Also, important financial decisions are made only with the approval of the court. This minimizes the chances of mismanagement of the ward’s funds.
A drawback with the court-appointed guardian is that court supervision results in increased cost. The costs in some cases are significant. Another drawback of conservatorship is that all the financial transactions become public.
Contacting an experienced conservatorship and guardianship attorney is important to better understand your options. The attorney will help you in making the best decision regarding estate planning. There may be the alternative plans that can better serve the purpose in protecting your estate. To set up an initial thirty (30) minute free consultation with a guardianship attorney, please contact one of our experienced attorneys.