Senior adults and the elderly are sadly often prey to elder abuse. Often the abuse isn’t physical, it may be financial abuse or emotional abuse. Sometimes romantic relationships are abusive: there are many instances of online romantic relations as well as in-person relationships where the abuser is not sincere in their love of the senior adult, they are merely trying to take advantage of their loneliness to exploit and scam them out of money and other assets. There are no limits to who will exploit and abuse the elderly. It could be a trusted caretaker, a family member, their clergy or even an unscrupulous attorney. Family members and caretakers or concerned friends may ask, When is an adult guardian necessary to prevent elder abuse?
Concerned family members who suspect elder abuse and want to protect their vulnerable loved ones from predators have legal options. To ensure an elderly parent or senior adult loved one does not unintentionally make poor financial or legal or health care decisions and is not vulnerable to scams and elder fraud, you can petition for legal adult guardianship in Illinois.
If your parent is no longer able to make responsible decisions due to dementia, you can set up an adult guardianship in Illinois. In Illinois, there are two basic categories of guardianship: “person guardianship” and “estate guardianship.”
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 sometimes 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.
How to Get An Adult Guardianship in Illinois
Getting an adult guardianship for your parent 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 was filed.
If you have concerns that a loved one may be a victim of elder abuse and want to protect them with an adult guardianship, 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 loved one’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 630-864-5835.