What is a Guardian Ad Litem, and Who Needs One?

  • Guardianships
what is a guardian ad litem and who needs one | estate and probate legal group

People sometimes confuse the terms’ Guardian’ and ‘Guardian Ad Litem.’ There are distinct differences in the responsibility of each, and when each should be used. Not everyone can stand up for themself in court. Perhaps a minor child or an adult who cannot speak for themself requires someone on their side. So, what is a guardian ad litem, and who needs one?

Guardian vs. Guardian Ad Litem

While they sound similar, there is a distinct difference between a guardian and a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL). A guardian has the legal authority to decide for the person they work with (also called their ‘ward’). This is a long-term responsibility, sometimes for the life.

A guardian ad litem does not have legal authority over the person. The GAL’s job is to help the judge decide what is in the ward’s best interest and make recommendations on their behalf. The assignment of the GAL is temporary. As soon as the court rules on the case, the duties and job of the guardian ad litem are over.

In both cases, those who may need a guardian or guardian ad litem are:

  • A minor child
  • An adult with cognitive disabilities
  • An elderly adult with a decline in mental functions

An estate plan’s importance is that you can name a guardian to love and watch over your young one in your will. If you pass away without a will, your child may have a guardian ad litem assigned to help the judge decide who should raise your child. You don’t want a judge who doesn’t know you or anyone in your family choose the fate of your loved one.

Estate Planning and Guardianship

When planning your will, your most important decision might be choosing a guardian for your children. As a parent, you know what and who is best for your child. Whether your child is a minor or an adult with disabilities, you want to ensure their care after you’re gone. An experienced estate planning attorney will help you legally establish guardianship of your children when you pass away.

No one expects to pass away suddenly, but it happens. And many times, the parent has not named a guardian for their minor children. But having a will can allow you the peace of mind that you are caring for your children, even after your death.

Talk to An Oak Brook Estate Planning Attorney

Making a will doesn’t have to be complicated. It is something that is necessary for the future of your children. Don’t let the courts decide who should raise your children after you pass away. Prepare for the future by contacting the experienced estate planning attorneys at the Estate and Probate Legal Group. Call us today at 630-864-5835.

AREAS WE SERVE: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and Will counties