Short-Term Guardian Declarations

Short-Term Guardian Declarations

A guardian of a person with special needs who will be unavailable for a short period of time should execute a short-term guardian declaration. The declaration has the effect of appointing a temporary guardian for the ward (the person with special needs) until the usual guardian becomes available again.

Short-term guardians for minor children are responsible for wards for one year or less. Reasons for choosing a short-term guardian include vacation, illness, active military duty, travel away from home, and more. Guardians in Illinois should be aware of how to appoint a short-term guardian because if a guardian becomes unavailable and no one is there to make decisions for the person with special needs, the court could decide that the guardian is unfit and appoint someone else as guardian instead.

The parent or guardian who makes decisions for a child with special needs can choose a short-term guardian. There is no need to go to court – instead the parent/guardian and the short-term guardian should execute an agreement in writing. Two people besides the parent/guardian and the short-term guardian must witness the agreement. If a child with special needs has a guardian who was appointed by the court, only that guardian (not parents) can appoint a short-term guardian using an agreement in writing. Both parents must agree to the short-term guardian in this situation, unless one parent is deceased, cannot be found, is unwilling or unable to care for the child, or is an unmarried father whose paternity has not been proven.

Importantly, short-term guardians of minor children do not have control over, access to, or rights to any assets of the person with special needs. They act as guardians of the person, not as guardians of the estate. 755 Ill. L.C.S. 5/11-13.2. Short-term guardians are not the best choice when the child with special needs has medical decisions that must be made during the short-term guardianship. Rather, they are better for respite while a parent goes on vacation or to visit family, or to establish rights if a friend or relative travels with a person with special needs but not with his parents.

Short-term guardianships for adults with special needs are similar to those for children. The guardian should consult with the adult with special needs about an appropriate guardian and consider his or her preference in deciding whom to appoint. The short-term guardian may act for up to 60 days in any 12-month period. 755 Ill. L.C.S. 5/11a-13.2.

A short-term guardianship will last until the specific date listed in the written agreement or until an event occurs, such as the parent or guardian returning from vacation. Parents or guardians may revoke (end) short-term guardianships at any time without consent of the short-term guardian.

Rubin Law is the only law firm in Illinois exclusively limited to providing compassionate special needs legal and future planning to guide our fellow Illinois families of children and adults with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, or mental illness down the road to peace of mind. For more information, email us at or call 866-TO-RUBIN.