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The Importance of Estate Guardianship in Illinois

Posted on in Estate Planning

Barrington estate planning lawyerManaging an estate takes a great deal of responsibility and good decision-making capabilities. This is true throughout the entire estate planning process; however, it becomes especially significant toward late adulthood. Unfortunately, not all individuals are capable of managing their estate effectively on their own. In these instances, it may be necessary to request and appoint guardianship over the estate owner. Through diligent research, effort, and collaboration with an experienced elder law attorney, successful guardianship is possible.

When is Estate Guardianship Necessary?

In Illinois, guardianship may be granted in instances where an individual, known as the ward, is not capable of making reasonable decisions regarding their financial or personal needs due to a physical, mental, or developmental disability. Under the Illinois Probate Act, the courts can modify the aspects of the appointed guardianship to meet the specific needs and capabilities of the ward. Guardianship is meant to safeguard individuals who cannot properly care for themselves or their property.

Court-appointed guardianship occurs most often in two situations: when a special needs child becomes an adult, or when an elderly individual loses decision-making abilities due to dementia. It is also possible for a guardian to be appointed for other concerns, including gambling habits, idleness, and excessive alcohol or drug use.

To successfully obtain guardianship, an interested party must file a petition detailing why a guardian is needed. The petition must include basic information about the ward, as well as a documented examination from the ward’s physician, psychologist, or psychiatrist that supports the need for guardianship. This examination will help the judge determine what type of guardianship best suits the ward’s circumstances and abilities. The examination, along with witness and guardian testimony, will be provided during a court hearing where the order of guardianship is determined.

Guardian Qualifications and Responsibilities

Typically, a guardian can be anyone who is of sound mind, a legal resident of the U.S., at least 18 years old, and has never been convicted of a serious crime. It is also possible for a public or private not-for-profit agency, or a financial institution, to serve as a guardian of the estate. While family members may seem like the logical choice for guardianship in these instances, the courts will not automatically name them a legal guardian. Even if a family member petitions to serve and the ward expresses this preference, the judge will appoint whomever they determine will act in the best interests of the disabled party.

Once the guardian has been appointed, the court will then decide how much authority the guardian will have. In some cases, only a guardian of the estate will be appointed, and that person will have the authority to make decisions regarding financial and property matters. In other cases, the court will appoint a guardian of both the estate and the person, meaning the guardian will also be granted the power to make decisions concerning the ward’s personal needs, medical care, and living arrangements.

Contact Our Barrington, IL Estate Planning Attorney Today

When pursuing guardianship of the estate, it can be very beneficial to hire an attorney, especially if the disabled individual argues against guardianship, or if their personal or financial issues are quite complicated. If you are seeking guardianship for a loved one or want to object to a guardianship petition, a Barrington guardianship lawyer can provide legal guidance. Contact Lucas Law to schedule a confidential consultation by calling 847-381-8700.

 

Sources:

https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/gac/OSG/Pages/Guardianship-Fact-sheet.aspx

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075500050HArt.+XIa&ActID=2104&ChapterID=60&SeqStart=14300000&SeqEnd=17600000

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