Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and affects many families. According to the National Institute on Aging, more than 5.5 million Americans, most of them age 65 or older, may have dementia caused by Alzheimer’s. Illinois residents with Alzheimer’s is projected to reach 240,000 in 2025. To make sure your spouse does not unintentionally make poor financial or legal decisions and to make decisions on behalf of your spouse you can petition for legal guardianship in Illinois.
If your spouse is no longer able to make responsible decisions due to dementia, you can set up a guardianship in Illinois. In Illinois, there are two basic categories of guardianship: “person guardianship” and “estate guardianship.” A guardian of the person has responsibility for making decisions regarding personal matters such as health care and housing for the incapacitated person, who is often referred to as the “ward.”
1. Person Guardianship
A guardian of the person has responsibility for making decisions regarding personal matters such as health care and housing for the incapacitated person, who is often referred to as the “ward.”
2. Estate Guardianship
An estate guardian has the responsibility for caring for the incapacitated person’s property and financial affairs. He or she is responsible for paying bills and managing property and finances. Depending on the circumstances, a ward may need a guardian of his or her person, property, or both. When a situation calls for both, the same guardian can serve in both roles.
Getting guardianship for your spouse is a formal legal process in the appropriate circuit court. The first step of the process is to file a petition with supporting information using court-approved forms. The petition must include a detailed report from a licensed physician and other professionals regarding the specific reasons the person at issue is allegedly incapacitated.
The proposed ward has rights throughout this process, which include the right to have his or her own attorney and the right to a court hearing before a judge. In most cases, the court will also appoint a guardian ad litem who is responsible for making recommendations about what actions would be in the proposed ward’s best interests. While all cases differ depending on the circumstances, the court will generally schedule a hearing within 30 days of the date the petition for was filed.
If you have questions about caring for a spouse suffering from Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia, a knowledgeable estate planning attorney can help you understand the legal process. They can represent you in court, suggest alternatives to guardianship, or provide other assistance as you seek to protect you and your spouse’s legal rights. To set up an initial meeting, contact the estate planning and elder law attorneys at Estate and Probate Legal Group today at 630-800-0112.