Generally, a Guardianship appointment gives you the authority to make decisions for and tend to the personal care of a ward. The court declares a person a ward when the person can not make sound decisions on their own. For example, a minor child or an incapacitated adult.
As a guardian, you must follow the law, the guardianship order, and any other court orders pertaining to your guardianship. You have a duty to act in the ward’s best interests and avoid any impropriety while caring for their affairs. The type of Guardianship varies depending on the situation of the ward.
Regardless, to become a guardian of a minor or adult you will need to petition the court. They will in turn discern the personal situation of the ward, verify your eligibility, hold a hearing, and eventually grant a guardianship order. For the court to accomplish this, they appoint a respected attorney to act and investigate, on behalf of the court. These attorneys are referred to as Guardian Ad Litem.
With thorough Estate Planning, interaction with the court can be greatly reduced. From designating Powers of Attorney to nominating a guardian of your minor children in your Will, working with an experienced attorney can prevent a lot of the hardships of fighting for Guardianship.
Guardian of the Person
A personal guardian takes care of the ward. Some of the duties include deciding where they will live, making them comfortable, seeing that their healthcare needs are met, helping with grooming, etc… Furthermore, the court needs to approve decisions such as living situations. But in general, as described by Illinois law, you must “assist the ward in the development of maximum self-reliance and independence.” All the expenses of the ward may be paid from their income or assets.
Being a guardian is a great responsibility. In addition to caring for the ward, you may need to make regular reports to the court. Also, if you are paid for serving as guardian, your bills must be thoroughly documented. Precise accounting and record keeping needs to be approved by the court before payments are made.
Read more about Adult and Minor Guardianship
Guardian of the Estate
An estate guardian controls everything a ward owns. This includes real property, money, bank accounts, cars, etc… Your duty to these assets will be designated in a court order. Primarily, you must maintain, manage, and conservatively invest the ward’s estate. In addition to your duty to handle the estate, you will have to plan for using the ward’s assets to provide care, comfort, and support for the ward. Therefore, the court may give permission to sell property or assets.
You must treat the ward’s estate completely separate from your own assets. You have the obligation to keep meticulous records of all transactions in and out of the ward’s estate. Also, you will need to pay the ward’s taxes and collect any benefits that are due to them, such as disability or social security. Consistently, you will report to the court.
Be confident in our ability to serve you by knowing our background in Guardianship proceedings. With her trusted experience in the Probate Court, Jacquelyn M Bruno has served as a court appointed Guardian Ad Litem (GAL). Such appointments speak to our integrity as a firm. In addition, Jacquelyn donates her time to help with guardianship cases for Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, an organization that provides free legal services for low-income Chicagoans.