A guardianship is a legal term that refers to the legal right to make decisions for someone else. A guardian is a qualified person or agent who looks after and is legally responsible for someone who is unable to manage their own affairs, especially a disabled person or a child whose parents have died. A professional guardian can be a bank, trust company, attorney or other entity that is acting as guardian for a person or the person’s estate. In comparison, a non-professional guardian can be a family member, friend or other trusted individual who was asked by the deceased to act on behalf of the person under guardianship.
Illinois law provides two types of guardianships:
1. Guardian of the Person
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 Guardian
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.
Qualifications to Be A Guardian In Illinois
To be appointed as someone’s guardian in Illinois, the legal qualifications to be a guardian include:
• at least 18 years old
• of sound mind
• a criminal record free of felony convictions
• legal resident of the United States (courts may award guardianship to undocumented immigrants in extreme cases)
• physically capable of caring for a child (if the guardianship is for a minor)
• capable of financially providing for the child (if the guardianship is for a minor)
• knows you have chosen them and is willing to act as guardian
• has the physical and mental abilities to care for children your children’s age (if the guardianship is for a minor)
In some cases, there is no one in the family who is willing or legally qualified to be appointed the vulnerable family member’s guardian. In that case, the court may appoint a professional guardian to protect the interests of the person. Certified Professional Guardians (CPG’s), are professionals appointed by the court to protect the legal, social and medical interests of individuals who require “decisional support” due to mental or physical limitations that impede their ability to exercise these rights alone. In Illinois, guardian certification in Illinois is voluntary except for Illinois Public Guardians (PG) who are required by state law to be certified.
The Illinois Guardianship Association has standards for professional guardians and advocates for non-certified guardians to follow the Standards of Practice and Ethics which the National Guardianship Association (NGA) adopted in 2001.
There is a cost for a professional guardian, which is typically paid out of the vulnerable person’s estate or by public funds if the person does not have the funds.
Do you have questions about Illinois guardianship and caring for a disabled loved one? To schedule a consultation with the experienced guardianship attorneys at Estate and Probate Legal Group, call us at 630-864-5835.
AREAS WE SERVE: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, and Will counties