If you help care for a disabled or elderly family member, you may have wondered about ways to help make life better for your loved one and easier on yourself. In some situations, a guardianship may be appropriate. For questions about guardianships and other family law issues, a Lombard guardianship lawyer could provide valuable legal insight and guidance.

A skilled attorney could evaluate your situations to determine whether seeking a guardianship may be appropriate for your needs. An experienced trusts and estates lawyer also understands the personal and emotional demands of these types of cases and could help you make sound decisions for yourself and those you care for.

What is a Guardianship?

Guardianship is a legal term that refers to the legal right to make decisions for someone else. Guardianship may be appropriate for someone in various situations, which could include:

  • An adult who is no longer able to independently make sound decisions regarding his or her healthcare
  • An adult who cannot manage his or her finances or property
  • A child whose parents are absent or unable to provide appropriate care
  • A child who inherits money or property

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.”

An estate guardian has 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.

Filing for a Guardianship in Lombard

Obtaining a guardianship involves going through 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.

As in all types of court proceedings, any party involved in this process may benefit from having skilled legal representation. An experienced Lombard guardianship attorney who understands applicable laws could help an individual present a strong case and make educated decisions as he or she pursue his or her objectives.

Other Approaches to Caring for Disabled Family Members

In certain cases, going to court for guardianship can become contentious and emotional, notably when a disabled individual does not agree with the reasons for the guardianship. For these and other reasons, anyone concerned about a disabled loved one may wish to consider alternatives to guardianship.

Other approaches to providing for someone when he or she cannot care for himself or herself include:

  • Living wills
  • Powers of attorney
  • Appointment of surrogate decision makers
  • Representative payees

These and other mechanisms may be available to address the needs of a potentially incapacitated loved one while avoiding the delay or expense of guardianship litigation. A guardianship lawyer in Lombard could help with these and other approaches to addressing current guardianship needs while also planning for future needs.

How a Lombard Guardianship Attorney Could Help

If you have questions about caring for a disabled loved one, contacting a knowledgeable attorney may be a good next step. A tenacious Lombard guardianship lawyer could help you understand the legal process in guardianship cases, represent you in court, suggest alternatives to guardianship, or provide other assistance as you seek to protect you and your family’s legal rights. To set up an initial meeting, call today.