Adult Guardianships


Elder Guardianship Attorney in Belleville, Illinois

Do you have an older family member who has trouble managing their affairs or needs someone to look out for their interests and well-being? Guardianship can give a trusted family member or another responsible party the authority to manage an incapacitated or vulnerable individual’s financial, legal, medical, and personal affairs. If you’ve considered establishing guardianship for an older loved one, contact Johnson, Johnson & Nolan, Attorneys at Law, for a free case evaluation with an experienced elder law attorney to discuss the suitability of guardianship for your family.

Why Choose an Attorney from Johnson, Johnson & Nolan, Attorneys at Law, for Elder Guardianship Cases?

For years, people throughout Belleville, Illinois, and St. Clair County have turned to the legal team at Johnson, Johnson & Nolan, Attorneys at Law, for dedicated legal assistance throughout the elder guardianship process because:

  • Our firm has a reputation for helping clients achieve successful outcomes in legal matters. We have received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell peer-rating service.
  • Our clients develop deep trust in us, reflected by their decision to refer friends, neighbors, and successive generations of family members to us.
  • We dedicate ourselves to offering a caring, attentive environment to ensure you and your family feel supported through the challenges of elder guardianship.

Understanding Adult Guardianships in Southern Illinois

Guardianship of an adult involves a court-appointed legal relationship in which a person or entity assumes authority to manage the adult’s financial, medical, legal, or personal affairs. Adults may require a guardian when they suffer physical or mental incapacity that makes them unable to manage various aspects of their lives or to communicate decisions about their affairs.

Adult guardianships come in two types: guardianship of the person and guardianship of the estate. In a guardianship of the person, the guardian may receive authority to manage a person’s medical and personal affairs, including:

  • Determining the person’s residence
  • Deciding medical treatment
  • Making end-of-life decisions
  • Consenting to counseling or other personal services

In a guardianship of the estate, the guardian has the responsibility to manage the adult’s financial affairs, including:

  • Gathering and managing the person’s assets
  • Obtaining appraisals of the person’s property
  • Paying the person’s bills and making other necessary disbursements
  • Receiving income for the person’s estate
  • Selling or disposing of the person’s assets with court approval

Courts can also tailor the scope of a guardian’s authority over an incapacitated adult’s affairs. Adult guardianship should enable an incapacitated person to live independently and have as much control over their affairs as they can manage. If a court finds that an adult’s incapacity affects their ability to handle a limited scope of affairs, the court may order limited guardianship that leaves the adult’s ability to handle other aspects of their life intact.

Adult Guardianships for Individuals with Disabilities

In addition to elder guardianships, adult guardianships can also be established for individuals with disabilities who are unable to manage their affairs due to physical, cognitive, or developmental impairments. These guardianships follow a similar process to elder guardianships and offer many of the same benefits.

Guardianship for adults with disabilities can be particularly important when:

  • The individual has reached the age of majority (18) and requires ongoing support and decision-making assistance
  • The individual’s parents or primary caregivers are aging and need to ensure continuity of care and financial management
  • The individual has received a settlement or inheritance that requires careful management

As with elder guardianships, courts can tailor the scope of guardianship for adults with disabilities to meet the individual’s specific needs and maximize their independence. Depending on the type of guardianship granted, guardians can manage the individual’s medical care, living arrangements, financial affairs, and personal well-being.

Benefits of Adult Guardianships

Adult guardianships offer families various benefits and peace of mind, knowing a trusted, capable individual or organization will look out for their loved one’s affairs and well-being. Guardianship can protect incapacitated or vulnerable adults from financial exploitation, physical abuse, or neglect, as guardians can have full authority over an incapacitated adult’s finances and ensure that the adult lives in a safe environment. When an adult retains some capacity to participate in decision-making for their affairs, a guardian can help them make appropriate decisions.

Guardianships allow families to have a trusted individual or organization handle an incapacitated loved one’s medical, personal, and financial matters so that essential decisions don’t get left unresolved. For example, a guardian can ensure that an incapacitated adult’s bills get paid. Guardians can also ensure continuity of medical and personal care for vulnerable adults.

Finally, adult guardianships can resolve uncertainty about who makes decisions on behalf of a vulnerable older person and which family members or other parties have the authority to act on that person’s behalf.

The Guardianship & Conservatorship Process in St. Clair County

The process of establishing adult guardianship begins when an interested party, such as a family member of an incapacitated adult or an adult protective services agency, petitions the court for appointment as the adult’s guardian. In emergencies, the court can appoint a temporary guardian for up to 60 days to protect an adult from imminent harm.

The court will schedule a hearing on a guardianship petition within 30 days of the filing date. The alleged incapacitated adult must receive notice of the hearing and may have legal representation. The court may also appoint a guardian ad litem to advocate for the adult’s interests and appoint legal counsel for an adult who objects to guardianship.

At the hearing, the court will listen to testimony and review evidence regarding the adult’s physical health, mental capacity, finances, housing situation, and lifestyle to determine whether the adult requires guardianship and, if so, the appropriate type. If the court finds guardianship necessary, it will identify a suitable person or organization to serve as guardian. The appointed guardian’s responsibilities include managing the adult’s affairs within the scope of the guardian’s authority and maximizing the adult’s independence. The guardian may have to submit annual reports regarding their performance to the court.

Frequently Asked Questions About Adult Guardianships

Common questions our clients have about elder guardianship cases include:

Who can serve as a guardian or conservator for an adult?

In Illinois, a person can serve as a guardian for an incapacitated adult if they:

  • Are 18 or older
  • Live in the U.S.
  • Are of sound mind
  • Do not have prior convictions for serious crimes

A public or private adult or elder services agency can also seek an appointment as a guardian for an incapacitated adult.

What factors do courts consider when appointing guardians for adults?

Courts will consider several factors when deciding whether an adult requires a guardian and determining who to appoint, including:

  • The adult’s physical or cognitive incapacity
  • Whether the adult can handle specific affairs or decisions
  • Whether the proposed guardian has the time and financial resources to commit to a guardianship
  • Whether the proposed guardian has a pre-existing relationship with the incapacitated adult

How does adult guardianship differ from a power of attorney?

Adult guardianship differs from durable power of attorney in several ways. An adult will draft and execute a durable power of attorney before becoming incapacitated. Thus, they can choose who will serve as their attorney-in-fact and the scope of that person’s authority. Conversely, an interested party will petition for guardianship after an adult becomes incapacitated. The adult can revoke a power of attorney if they regain competency; however, the adult must file a petition with the court to revoke guardianship.

Furthermore, when an adult’s guardianship includes guardianship of the estate, the court may require the guardian to post a financial bond that acts as a security in case they engage in misconduct or negligently handle the adult’s finances. However, a power of attorney may not require the attorney-in-fact to post a financial security for their performance.

Can the adult or another party contest or modify guardianship?

Illinois allows an adult subject to guardianship or another interested party (such as a family member) to petition to revoke or modify the guardianship. In a revocation hearing, the court will review evidence and testimony to determine whether the adult has regained capacity and no longer needs guardianship or whether to modify aspects of the guardianship, such as replacing the guardian or changing the scope of their authority.

Contact Johnson, Johnson & Nolan, Attorneys at Law, for a Legal Consultation to Discuss Your Family’s Options

When you have an older family member needing guardianship in St. Clair County, get experienced legal representation to guide your family through the process. Contact Johnson, Johnson & Nolan, Attorneys at Law, today for an initial consultation with our family law attorneys to learn more about elder conservatorships and whether they can benefit your loved one.