If you are the adult child, grandchild, or loved one of an elderly or disabled individual you may find yourself in a position where you are concerned about your loved ones’ physical, mental, or financial well-being. As a result, you may decide to file for guardianship over your loved one. Guardianship proceedings are a legal process that can be complicated and time-consuming; however, if your loved one is in need of protection than guardianship is likely the best option. Understanding how to file for guardianship in Geneseo Illinois is a good place to start.
If you do ultimately decide to petition for guardianship you should retain the services of an estate planning attorney to assist you throughout the proceedings. In the meantime, however, the following can serve as a guide to a typical guardianship proceeding in Illinois.
- Deciding to file. The decision to file for guardianship should be made after a period of contemplation and often in consultation with other family members and legal counsel.
- Determining incapacity. Ultimately, a court will decide if the proposed ward, or protected person, is incapacitated. Typically, disability or incapacity is based on (1) mental deterioration, (2) physical incapacity, (3) mental illness, or (4) developmental disability.
- Obtaining a report. You will need a report from a licensed physician or other professional certifying that the proposed ward is indeed disabled or incapacitated.
- Filing the petition. You must file a petition in the appropriate court asking to be appointed guardian over your loved one. The petition is then served on the proposed ward as well as other interested parties such as additional family members.
- Guardian ad litem. The court will appoint a guardian ad litem to interview the proposed ward, explain the proceedings if possible, and helps the court in making its decision.
- Hearing. A hearing date will usually be set where the court will hear evidence regarding the petition. At the hearing you will attempt to convince the judge that your loved one is in need of a guardian and that you are an appropriate guardian. If your loved one, or anyone else interested in the case opposes the appointment they will also be given the opportunity to present evidence.
- Decision. The court will decide if a guardianship is warranted and if so if you are an appropriate person to appoint.
- Authority. If the court does appoint you as guardian the court will indicate the extent and type of your authority. You may be appointed as a guardian of the person or a guardian of the estate. As guardian of the person you will be able to make day-to-day decisions for the ward, such as where he or she will live. As guardian of the estate you will make decisions regarding the ward’s assets and finances. The court may also limit your guardianship powers by indicating specific things that you can and cannot do, or decisions that you can and cannot make.
If you are convinced that a guardian is needed for a loved one consult with your Illinois estate planning attorney as soon as possible.
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