A guardian ad litem, or guardian “for the suit”, can be appointed by the court before a guardianship hearing to act in the guardianship proceeding. The court can appoint a guardian ad litem to report to the judge about the person with special needs’ best interests. Not all courts appoint guardians ad litem, and they are not required to do so in Illinois if not needed for protection and for making informed decisions about the guardianship petition. In some counties guardians ad litem are rarely appointed so long as the individual with special needs will be at the hearing; in other counties guardians ad litem are almost always appointed.
Many guardians ad litem are licensed attorneys experienced with guardianship proceedings. If the guardian ad litem is not a licensed attorney, then he must be qualified to work with or advocate for people with special needs, depending on the special needs at issue. If needed, the guardian ad litem can consult with a person trained or experienced in working with people with special needs.
Before the hearing, the guardian ad litem, if one is appointed, will meet and observe the person with special needs. At this time, the guardian ad litem should inform the person with special needs of his rights and of the petition’s contents. He should also ask about the person with special needs’ position on guardianship, the proposed guardian, whether he has a legal “disability”, changes in housing or care that could result, and anything else the court feels is appropriate.
Either before or at the guardianship hearing, the guardian ad litem will file a written report describing his meeting and observation of the person with special needs. The report will also include what the person with special needs told the guardian ad litem about his thoughts on guardianship, etc. as detailed above. Finally, the report should state the guardian ad litem’s opinion on the appropriateness of guardianship. The guardian ad litem will attend the guardianship hearing and testify about the contents of the written report.
The guardian ad litem also has the right to review and copy medical records of the person with special needs, but these records may not be disclosed outside the guardianship proceeding. The court may allow the guardian ad litem reasonable compensation.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866-TO-RUBIN.