If your family member is sick or injured and is no longer able to manage his own affairs, you need to step in to protect the person you love. The process for doing this is going to be based on what steps were taken in advance. In many situations, guardianship is the best and only answer – and you need to know what the laws are for becoming a guardian in Illinois.
A guardianship attorney at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP can provide you with the assistance you need to determine if guardianship is the right choice and to petition the court to become a guardian. Give us a call at 800-644-5345 or contact us online today so we can provide personalized assistance with the guardianship process and so we can provide answers to important questions you may have about guardianship issues such as:
- When is guardianship necessary?
- What is involved in guardianship?
- How can a guardianship attorney help?
When Is Guardianship Necessary?
Guardianship is necessary when someone has become physically or mentally incapable of managing his own affairs, taking care of his own assets, and making his own decisions. Guardianship allows the incapacitated person to be declared a ward and allows a guardian to be assigned to take care of him.
Guardianship is always necessary for children who are not of legal age to make their own decisions. Except in unusual circumstances, parents are guardians of their children. For someone who is disabled, guardianship may be necessary for his or her entire life. For most others, however, guardianship only becomes necessary as an adult when a mental problem or a medical condition develops that makes decision-making impossible. At such time, guardianship proceedings will need to be initiated.
Guardianship is, however, not necessary when the person who is incapacitated has made other plans. If the incapacitated individual has used legal tools like a power of attorney and/or living trusts and advanced directives then guardianship may not be needed.
A power of attorney, living trusts, and advanced directives provide much more autonomy for the incapacitated person. The individual is able to choose his own agent or trustee to be his voice and act for him, rather than having family members and the courts decide. This is often preferable, which is why it may be beneficial for all parties to speak with an experienced lawyer about creating a power of attorney before incapacity occurs.
What Is Involved In Guardianship?
If there is no power of attorney or other advanced plan in place in case of incapacity, family or friends of a person who has become mentally or physically unsound will need to go to court and petition for guardianship. The court will conduct an assessment to determine if the allegedly incapacitated person is, in fact, unable to make and/or communicate his own decisions and manage is own assets. Only if it is determined that the individual is actually incapacitated will the court have that person declared a ward.
Once someone is declared a ward, a guardian will then be appointed. Usually, but not always, a close family member is chosen to serve as a guardian. The person selected as guardian is not necessarily always the person who initiated the guardianship proceedings. It may also not necessarily be the person who the incapacitated individual would likely have selected, had advanced plans been made.
Once chosen, the guardian has a fiduciary obligation to take all actions on behalf of the ward with 100 percent focus on the ward’s best interests. A guardian cannot act in his own best interests or to serve anyone’s needs but the ward’s. The court will oversee the actions which are being taken by the guardian in order to make certain that the guardian is fulfilling his responsibilities. This ongoing involvement of the court is another reason why many people prefer a power of attorney to guardianship, so family affairs may be kept private.
How Can A Guardianship Attorney Help?
Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP can help with the creation of an advanced plan to make guardianship unnecessary. Our guardianship attorneys can also provide assistance to concerned friends and family members when someone they love is showing signs of incapacity. You owe it to the people in your life to protect them and to protect their legacy when a physical or mental condition makes them unable to tend to their own affairs. We can help you to fulfill your obligations. Give us a call today at 800-644-5345 or contact us online to learn more.