Guardianships

Guardianships

Guardianship Attorney in Belleville, Illinois

When a vulnerable person requires someone to care for them and look after their affairs, the court may establish guardianship over the person. Guardianship entails serious responsibilities for the person appointed as guardian. Contact Johnson, Johnson & Nolan, Attorneys at Law, for a legal consultation with our family and elder law attorneys to learn more about guardianship and discuss whether you or another family member should seek to become a guardian for a vulnerable loved one.

Why Choose a Guardianship Attorney from Johnson, Johnson & Nolan?

If you have a minor family member who has lost their parents or an older family member who has become incapacitated, your family may need to establish guardianship to protect your loved one’s rights and interests. For generations, families have turned to the attorneys at Johnson, Johnson & Nolan, Attorneys at Law, for legal advice and assistance through the guardianship process because of:

  • Our proven reputation for obtaining successful results in clients’ legal matters is backed by our AV rating from the Martindale-Hubbell peer-review rating service, the program’s highest possible rating.
  • The trust our clients develop for our firm is reflected by the fact that many clients refer family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to us.
  • Our dedication to offering every client the personal attention and responsive communication they need and deserve. You will have a direct link to your attorney, who will ensure you understand your legal options at each stage of your case.

Understanding Guardianships in St. Clair County

A guardianship refers to a legal process or relationship in which the court appoints a person to manage the legal, financial, and personal affairs of someone unable to do so themselves due to legal, physical, or mental incapacity. Families may use guardianships to protect vulnerable loved ones, such as minors who have lost their parents or whose parents cannot fulfill their duties, incapacitated adults, or family members with special needs.

A family that wants to establish guardianship for a loved one must go to the courts to do so. A court will set up guardianship based on the needs of the person. Guardianships come in two main types. In a guardianship of the person, a guardian assumes responsibility for managing someone’s personal affairs, including:

  • The person’s residence
  • Medical treatment
  • Counseling
  • Education
  • Release of confidential information
  • End-of-life decisions

In a guardianship of the estate, a guardian assumes responsibility for managing a person’s financial affairs, including:

  • Managing cash and other assets
  • Obtaining property appraisals
  • Receiving income for the person’s estate
  • Paying bills or making disbursements on the person’s behalf
  • Selling or liquidating a person’s assets with court approval

Courts can restrict the scope of a guardian’s authority when a person retains the capacity to manage certain specific affairs. Courts may prefer to limit adult guardianships to give the person the ability to live as independently as possible.

Pros and Cons of Guardianships

Guardianships can benefit families with a vulnerable loved one who needs someone to manage their affairs. First, guardianships ensure that a trusted family member can look out for the needs and affairs of a vulnerable person. Minor guardianships ensure that children have someone who will give them a home and provide for their educational, medical, and financial needs. Adult guardianships allow family members to protect an incapacitated or special needs individual from financial loss and provide for their personal and healthcare needs. Guardianships can also ensure continuity of care for persons with severe disabilities or special needs. Ultimately, guardianships give families peace of mind, knowing that someone has the authority to look after a vulnerable loved one.

However, guardianships have requirements and downsides that might make other alternatives better for families. In some cases, a court may require a bond for guardianship of the estate, which provides financial security if the guardian mismanages a person’s assets. A person worried about incapacity might choose to set up a durable power of attorney as an alternative to guardianship since a durable power of attorney can go into effect more quickly and cost a family less.

The Guardianship Process

The guardianship process begins when an interested person files a petition with the court. The petition must provide the name, date of birth, and address of the person allegedly needing guardianship. For adult guardianships, the petition may include a report from a physician or mental health expert describing the person’s physical and mental capacity.

The court will schedule a guardianship hearing within 30 days of the petition. However, the court can appoint a temporary guardian in an emergency, with temporary adult guardianship lasting up to 60 days or until the court holds a hearing.

In an adult guardianship, the court will conduct a hearing to receive evidence and testimony regarding the adult’s physical health, mental capacity, finances, and housing. If the court determines that the adult requires a guardian, it will appoint a limited or plenary guardianship. The appointed guardian may have to submit annual reports to the court describing the services provided and the status of the ward’s care.

In a minor guardianship, the court can appoint a short-term guardian for up to one year or a plenary (permanent) guardian. The court will hold a hearing to determine the proposed guardian’s fitness and whether the child requires a guardian because their parents cannot or will not fulfill their parental duties.

Frequently Asked Questions About Guardianships

Common questions our clients have about guardianship include:

Who can serve as a guardian?

Typically, any competent adult who does not have a prior conviction for a serious crime can serve as a guardian for a minor or an incapacitated adult. A public or private agency may also seek an appointment as a person’s guardian. Financial institutions may also seek appointment as guardians of the estate. In most cases, a close family member such as a parent, grandparent, child, or sibling will seek an appointment as a guardian for a vulnerable family member.

What does the court consider when appointing a guardian?

Courts evaluate several factors when deciding whether to appoint a person or entity to serve as an individual’s guardian. Some of the factors the court may consider include:

  • Whether the prospective guardian can afford to care for the person
  • Whether the prospective guardian has the time to devote to guardianship
  • The prospective guardian’s physical or mental fitness to take on the duties of guardianship
  • The prospective guardian’s existing relationship with the person

Can someone contest or seek to modify guardianship?

Illinois law allows an interested party to seek to modify or revoke guardianship. The biological parents of a child subject to guardianship can petition to discharge the guardian by proving to the court their fitness to resume parenting duties. Another family member can also petition to replace a guardian who has engaged in misconduct or lacks the fitness to continue serving as a guardian.

An adult subject to guardianship or another interested party can object to guardianship or petition to revoke it. The subject of the guardianship has the right to legal counsel during a contested proceeding, including the right to have the court appoint counsel for them.

What happens when a guardian cannot or will not fulfill their duties?

When a guardian abandons their ward or becomes incapacitated and cannot fulfill their duties, an interested party can petition to remove the guardian and appoint a replacement.

Contact the Family Law Attorneys at Johnson, Johnson & Nolan, Attorneys at Law, to Get Legal Advice About Guardianships

When your family needs to set up a guardianship for a vulnerable loved one, get the legal help you need to navigate the process. Contact Johnson, Johnson & Nolan, Attorneys at Law, today for a free initial case evaluation to learn more about guardianship in Southern Illinois and obtain legal representation to guide your family.