A guardian is a person who will step into the shoes of the parent to care for that parent’s child or to when that parent is unable. It is often a grandparent, older sibling, or close friend. Therefore, it is critical for parents to nominate individuals who are trustworthy and share their value systems. A guardian is a fiduciary, meaning that a guardian can be held responsible for their actions by a court of law.
To be a guardian in Illinois, you must be 18 years of age or older, of sound mind, a U.S. resident, and generally, not a convicted felon.
A guardian is nominated by a testator (person who creates a will); the child himself or herself, in Illinois, if the child is 14 years of age or older; or another eligible individual. Next, the proposed guardian must petition the probate court, pay an oath and bond, and appear before the judge for appointment. It is generally advisable for an attorney to complete the petition; several additional issues often arise in minor guardianship cases as well. Assisting clients with guardianship is a feature of our Family Benefit Protection Plan.
The types of guardianship still apply. However, the court process is much longer and could require doctors’ affidavits or testimony and investigations of the proposed guardian’s homes. This is why it is important for parents with disabled children to establish a family commitment plan that includes important instruments such as a will and to have powers of attorney provisions that address the possibility of one or both parents becoming incapacitated. Sometimes, if the disabled adult is only physically disabled or has long-standing periods of mental acuity, he or she can authorize someone to have a property power of attorney.