When a person is unable to make decisions regarding his or her personal care or finances because of a mental, physical or developmental disability, it may be necessary to appoint a guardian for that person. The person for whom a guardian is appointed is called a ward.
In Illinois, a person may serve as a guardian if he or she is 18 years of age or older, is of sound mind, has not been convicted of a serious crime and is a legal resident of the United States.
Types of guardianship
There are two types of guardianship in Illinois, a person guardianship and an estate guardianship. A guardian of the person is appointed by the court when the ward needs someone to make decisions about medical treatment, residential placement, social services or other needs. A guardian of the estate is appointed by the court when the ward is not able to make decisions about his or her finances, income or other assets.
The court will decide the extent of the guardianship’s decision-making ability, which is often based on a clinical evaluation of the ward and a report. The court can appoint a limited guardian who can make only specific decisions for the ward or a plenary guardian who can make all decisions for the ward.
In emergency situations, the court may appoint a temporary guardianship which lasts no longer than 60 days to ensure the ward receives immediate protection.
For a guardian to be appointed, he or she must file a petition with the court. In addition to basic information about the guardian and the person in need of guardianship, the court must receive a physician’s report to help the judge determine which type of guardianship may be needed.
An experienced attorney can provide additional information about the guardianship process and advice about next steps.