Chicago Guardianship Attorneys
How is a Guardian Appointed?
In order to be appointed as a guardian for a disabled person, a petition must be filed with the probate court identifying the alleged disabled person, (also referred to as the Respondent) and the proposed guardian. The petition must state that it is necessary to appoint a Guardian of the Person, Guardian of the Estate or Guardian of Person and Estate of the alleged disabled person. If the alleged disabled person has no assets or income then it is only necessary to have a Guardian of the Person appointed for the purpose of making health care decisions on behalf of the disabled person. In either case, the Petitioner must also provide a medical report completed by a physician that has examined the alleged disabled person within 90 days from the filing of the petition. Because adjudicating someone to be determined disabled limits the persons rights to control his or her own finances or health care or both, once the petition is filed, the alleged disabled person must be served with a copy of the petition with a guardianship summons that provides notice of the first court date. The alleged disabled person has the right to counsel and to fight the petition if he believes he doesn’t need a guardian. However, most cases are uncontested by the disabled person. Notice must also be sent to the closest living relatives of the Respondent of the proceedings.
After everybody is served, the probate judge will appoint a Guardian Ad Litem or GAL for the Respondent. The GAL is the attorney for the Respondent and is required to meet with the Respondent, consult with family and the Respondent’s physician to determine if, in fact, the Respondent is disabled requiring a guardian and whether the proposed guardian is appropriate. The GAL will prepare a report for the probate judge to consider on the hearing date. Depending on the health of the Respondent, he or she may not be required to be at the hearing and his appearance can be waived.
On the hearing date, provided there are no objections and the GAL agrees with the Petitioner, the judge will appoint the Guardian and the GAL will be discharged.
Disabled Persons Estates – Guardianship
In the State of Illinois, when an adult over the age of 18 is incapable of managing his or her own finances or make decisions regarding his or her own medical care due to illness or injury it may be necessary to have the person declared disabled and have a guardian appointed. If the alleged disable person previously executed a power of attorney it may be possible to avoid guardianship. However, without a power of attorney, sooner or later, financial institutions and health care professionals will require the appointment of a guardian.
Guardianships can involve extremely complex issues concerning finances and medical care. Furthermore, unlike decedent’s estates, guardianship estates are ALWAYS supervised by the probate judge and require court approval for every transaction involving the disabled person’s assets.
You should have an experienced probate/guardianship attorney assisting you with the process.
What are the Responsibilities of a Guardian?
If there is a Guardian of the Estate appointed, the Guardian must prepare an inventory of all of the disabled person’s property, real and personal. The disabled person is also referred to now as a Ward. The inventory must be filed and approved by the judge within 60 days from the date of the Guardian’s appointment. At the presentation for approval of the inventory the Guardian should also have a proposed budget for the next 12 months approved, and present any petitions necessary to approve certain expenditures and payment of certain debts of the Ward. Twelve months after the appointment and every year thereafter until the ward dies or the guardianship is terminated, the Guardian must file a Current Account with the court for approval. The Current Account must show all receipts and disbursements made during the previous 12 months. When the Ward dies a final account must be approved by the judge before the assets can be transferred to a decedent’s estate.
When there are no assets and there is only a Guardian of the Person, the Guardian is required to file a status report every year advising the court of the Ward’s health and living situation.