The legal duties of guardians of adults with special needs under Illinois law largely depend on the type and scope of the guardianship order that the court grants. For example, the court can limit the guardian’s powers in the guardianship order or allow the guardian virtually unlimited powers over the adult or the “ward.” In any case, guardians must periodically report on the performance of their duties to the court. The frequency and detail required in these reports may vary from one court to another.
Duties of a Guardian of the Estate
A guardianship of the estate means the guardian is responsible for all the ward’s finances, property, and legal matters. Under 755 ILCS 5/11a-18, some of these duties include the following:
- File an inventory of the ward’s assets and income within 60 days of being appointed guardian;
- Open an estate checking account to receive the ward’s regular income and pay any of the ward’s bills, taxes, and other debts;
- Arrange to have the ward’s important financial and legal mail sent directly to you;
- Redirect all of the ward’s sources of income to be deposited to the estate checking account;
- Securely protect, maintain, and restrict access to the ward’s property and accounts in a manner that is in the ward’s best interests;
- Prudently manage and invest the ward’s financial resources;
- Safeguard the ward’s personal property and obtain insurance coverage as needed:
- Use the ward’s assets for their care, comfort, and education as needed;
- Apply for available public benefits and other resources for the ward; and
- File a written account of all financial transactions made on behalf of the ward.
A guardian of the estate also has certain limitations under Illinois law. A guardian of the estate may only take certain actions after getting the court’s permission and notifying any guardian ad litem whom the court has appointed for the ward in the guardianship proceedings. For example, limited activities include selling any personal property or real estate that the ward owns, making gifts from the ward’s estate, mortgaging the ward’s property, spending large sums of the ward’s money for unusual or extraordinary expenses, or distributing the ward’s funds to yourself or someone else for guardian’s fees.
Duties of a Guardian of the Person
The duties of a personal guardian are outlined in 755 ILCS 5/11a-17. A personal guardian may have custody of the ward, the ward’s minor children, and any adult children dependent on the ward for support and care. Generally, the guardian must procure and provide the ward’s support, care, comfort, health, education, maintenance, and professional services as appropriate. The guardian also shall assist the ward in developing maximum self-reliance and independence. A guardianship of the person means that the guardian is responsible for all the ward’s personal care matters, including healthcare and living arrangements.
A guardian of the person also is subject to certain limitations under Illinois law. For example, a person’s guardian must petition the court for a specific court order before placing the ward residentially. A guardian also must seek the court’s permission before consenting to procedures the impact the reproductive rights or petitioning for divorce on behalf of the ward.
Plenary vs. Limited Guardianship
A plenary guardianship, which can apply to a guardianship of the estate, a guardianship of the person, or both, means that the guardian has the full range of powers and duties that a guardian typically receives under Illinois law. However, the pertinent Illinois laws do define how and when the guardian should consider the ward’s wishes in making decisions for the ward.
On the other hand, a limited guardianship gives the guardian only limited powers as enumerated in the court’s guardianship order. Again, a limited guardianship can apply to a guardianship of the estate, a guardianship of the person, or both. A limited guardianship is often appropriate when a ward has some capacity to participate in the decision-making process. In this situation, the ability of the guardian to act on behalf of the ward is far more limited.
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Rubin Law is the only Illinois law firm exclusively dedicated to providing compassionate legal services for children and adults with special needs. In addition, we offer unique legal and future planning techniques to meet your family’s individual needs. At our law firm, you can discuss all your needs and objectives with an experienced Illinois special needs trust lawyer.
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