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In Illinois, it may become necessary that a guardian be appointed of either a minor child (minor guardianship) or a disabled adult. Additionally, it is often common for there to be co-guardians, making joint decisions for the minor or the disabled adult.  Frequently, a guardian is a parent or other family member.  These appointments must be approved by a judge in court.

Some common reasons a guardian of a minor is necessary is due to legal caregivers no longer being able to care for the minor.  This may occur due to death, a mental health disorder, or substance abuse issue. If the parents are unable to care for their children, then it may be legally necessary for a guardianship to be established. Without guardianship, the adult taking care of the minor child will not be allowed to enroll the minor in school, take them to the doctor, or enroll them in any child care programs. Notes from parents giving you authority to act generally are not legally sufficient in many situations.

Some common reasons for a guardianship of a disabled adult (adult guardianship) are that later in life a person/s health is declining and they are no longer able to care for themselves, a child that is unable to be independent turns 18, or a sudden medical issue arises wherein a person can no longer take care of themselves.

In each guardianship, regardless if it is of a minor or a disabled adult, there are two parts:

(1) Guardian of the Person

(2) Guardian of the Estate

A guardian of the a minor gets to decide where the minor goes to school, where they live, and what health care and medical treatment is administered. A guardian of the person for a disabled adult can make the same decisions,  but is also bound to listen to the wishes and desires of the disabled adult if the adult has the ability to express those wishes.

When a person is the guardian of someone’s estate, that means they now get to make all the financial decisions for that person. These decision may include if they get an allowance, what their money can and cannot be spent on, etc.

In some situations, it can be necessary for an emergency guardianship to be granted. In these cases, it is typical for a court to appoint a temporary guardian of a minor or disabled adult, while the case is pending. This allows the petitioning guardian to make necessary decisions for the minor or disabled adult such as residential placements, medical treatments, and school placements, as guardianship proceedings can take months or years to be resolved.

Every county in Illinois has varying local rules on court procedure and filings in a guardianship case. To obtain legal advice on guardianship, please contact an attorney at Strauss & Hoyt, LLC today for a free consultation.