Adult Guardianship Attorneys

Adult guardianship is a legal process where a court appoints a decision-maker (guardian) for an adult who is unable to make their own decisions (due to mental illness, cognitive decline, physical incapacity, developmental disability, etc.). The disability must prevent the person from making or communicating responsible decisions about their personal and/or financial affairs.

Guardianship is the last resort and should be pursued only when there is no other viable decision-maker for the vulnerable adult. To make sure that you are prepared for the adult guardianship process and fulfilling your responsibilities if appointed as a legal guardian, you need an adult guardianship attorney. At Dutton Casey & Mesoloras, PC, our experienced guardianship attorneys can help you throughout the process whether you need to find a guardian for a loved one, or if you need to defend against a guardian being appointed for you.

adult guardianship

Adult Guardianship Process

In Illinois, the only way to become a legal guardian is to be appointed by the court. The procedures for adult guardianship are set forth by law and include the following: 

  • Guardian Qualifications – the person seeking to be appointed as guardian must be at least 18 years old, a resident of the United States, not convicted of a felony (with certain exceptions), and not found to be disabled by a court.
  • Report of Physician – a physician’s report certifying that the person has a disability and needs a guardian must be obtained. A disability can be due to many different conditions such as dementia, mental illness, or a developmental disability.
  • Guardian ad Litem – most counties will require the appointment of a Guardian ad Litem. It is the Guardian ad Litem’s job to inform the alleged person with a disability of their rights, which includes the right to be represented by an attorney if they object to the guardianship. The Guardian ad Litem also reports to the court regarding the need for a legal guardian.
  • Petition, Notice, and Summons – a petition must be filed with the court. Notice of the court date, time, and location must be sent to certain people. The alleged person with a disability must be served with the petition and summons for the court date.
  • Oath and Bond – the person seeking to be appointed as guardian will need to submit an oath and bond to the court.
  • Court Reporting – the legal guardian will be responsible for ongoing reporting to the court regarding the management of the person with a disability’s person and/or estate.

Adult Guardianship Types

There are several types of adult guardianship available under Illinois law. The court will consider all available options to determine the appropriate form of legal guardianship. The court can appoint a guardian of the person, guardian of the estate, or both. The basic forms adult guardianship can take include the following:

  • Temporary Guardianship – used in an emergency situation and has a time limit of 60 days. Ensures that the person who needs a legal guardian receives immediate protection.
  • Plenary Guardianship – used when a person is completely unable to make all important decisions regarding their person and/or estate.
  • Limited Guardianship – used when the person can make some, but not all decisions, regarding the care of their person and/or estate.
  • Successor Guardianship – used upon the death, disability, or resignation of the initially appointed guardian, when legal guardianship is still needed.
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