A guardianship is a legal designation that permits an individual to make legal decisions on behalf of another. The party for whom a guardian is appointed is known as the ward. As part of the estate planning process, many individuals create guardianships for their minor children and their adult children whose disabilities make it impossible for them to live independently and make decisions in their own best interests.
Creating a Guardianship for a Child
Parents of minor children can name guardians for their children in their wills. Parents can opt to designate different guardians for their individual children. If no guardian is named for a couple’s children in their will and it becomes necessary for a legal guardian to step into the parents’ role, the court may appoint a legal guardian. This can also occur if there is some reason why the individual named in the parents’ will cannot serve as the children’s guardian.
Guardianships for Adults
Parents of adults with disabilities often opt to create guardianships for their children to ensure that they are properly cared for after the parents pass away. If an adult’s parents do not designate a guardian for him or her after their death, the court may appoint a guardian.
Guardianships for adults are generally created to give the adult as much independence as he or she can realistically handle. A guardianship document can outline the guardian’s duties to the ward, which can include:
- Ensuring that the ward receives appropriate medical care;
- Making medical and/or financial decisions on the ward’s behalf;
- Providing care for the ward, either as a caregiver or by overseeing care received from a contracted caregiver; and
- Regularly updating the court about the ward’s status to ensure that he or she is receiving appropriate care.
Requirements for Legal Guardians in Illinois
Each state has specific requirements individuals must meet in order to act as legal guardians for children or disabled adults. In Illinois, the requirements are as follows:
- A guardian must be 18 years old or older;
- To be a guardian, an individual must not have any serious convictions on his or her record;
- The guardian must be of sound mind; and
- The court must be acceptable to the court, which means that he or she has demonstrated the ability to perform the duties of guardianship in a satisfactory manner.
There are seven types of guardianship recognized by Illinois law. If you are the parent of an adult with a physical or mental disability, discuss these different options with your estate planning lawyer to determine which would be best for your son or daughter.
Our Chicago Guardianship Lawyers can Guide You Through Appointing a Legal Guardian Upon Your Death
Designating guardians for your children, minor or adult, can give you peace of mind. Schedule an appointment with an experienced estate planning lawyer today to talk more about your family’s circumstances and what you would need from a guardianship. Your lawyer can answer your questions and make recommendations that will serve your children well in the event of your death.