When an individual loses the ability to make decisions on their own due to age or a life-long disability, a guardianship may be necessary. Often, a family member or close friend will assume the responsibility of becoming the legal guardian for a loved one in these situations. The duties of a guardian may include making health care decisions, collecting and investing assets, and assisting with day-to-day living arrangements.
In a perfect world, individuals who will need a legal guardian could have planned ahead by signing appropriate powers of attorney. Unfortunately, many people either do not plan for this or their plans fail due to illness or a lack of proper documentation. In any event, discussing your options with a Chicago Guardianship Attorney is important to ensure that you understand your rights and those of your loved ones.
Typically, a person who wishes to be appointed as a guardian must file a petition with the court. The petition must include basic personal information about the person requiring a guardian, as well as a report about their current condition and capacity from a physician. In some circumstances, a physician may not be available, and in those cases the court can appoint an independent investigator or “guardian ad litem.”
A Guardian ad litem is an attorney or lay person who investigates and advocates for the best interests of the alleged incapacitated person (“AIP”). The guardian ad litem interviews the AIP and informs them of their legal rights. The guardian ad litem also provides the court with a report of their investigation and recommendation as to who should be the guardian.
Guardianship proceedings are complicated and should not be undertaken lightly. Once the court appoints you as a guardian, it will require that you regularly submit reports and accountings to the court and appear in front of the judge if required. Guardians also have a duty to look out for the best interest of their ward and are required to follow all laws regarding the guardianship process.
A guardian cannot act without the approval of the court or the ward, which is why it is important to discuss your options with an experienced attorney before taking steps to become a guardian. At the Law Offices of Peck Ritchey, LLC, we can review your situation and assist you in filing a petition for a guardianship with the courts.
In addition to filing petitions for guardianship, we can help you prepare other documents that may be required by the court, such as a letter of inquiry, physician’s report, and a statement of assets. Once these documents are gathered, they can be filed along with a citation or notice of hearing, depending on whether the subject of the guardianship is alive or deceased. The citation or notice is then served to the AIP, relevant relatives, and the new guardian(s). Then, any necessary hearings can be scheduled. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an experienced Chicago Guardianship Attorney.