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IL estate lawyerAlthough pop star Britney Spears was a household name in the 90s and early 2000s, the singer faded into the background in later years. However, a new legal battle has returned Spears’ name to news headlines. Concerns over a court-appointed conservatorship have led many to question exactly when an adult should be subject to guardianship. Some believe that Spears’ father’s control over her finances is a despicable abuse of power. Others see it as a necessary means of assisting a woman with a history of mental instability and substance abuse issues.

Understanding the Purpose of Guardianships and Conservatorships

Estate planning terms vary from state to state. In Illinois, the term “conservatorship” is often used synonymously with guardianship of a person’s estate. A conservator or “guardian of the estate” is in charge of managing the finances of another individual. A “guardian of the person” manages the non-financial concerns in the person’s life, such as housing and medical decisions. Both conservatorships and guardianships give authority of a person’s life to another party. Conservatorships and guardianships are typically used to protect the interests of minor children or those with dementia or other conditions that reduce the individual’s ability to make sound decisions.

Why Was Britney Spears Subject to a Conservatorship?

For over 13 years, Britney Spears has been subject to a court-appointed conservatorship which gives control of her affairs to her father Jamie Spears. The conservatorship was established in 2008 amid concerns over the singer’s mental health problems and drug and alcohol use. Spears has attended several rehabilitation facilities for substance abuse and has also been placed in the hospital under psychiatric holds on two occasions. However, many proponents of the #FreeBritney movement say that conservatorship is no longer necessary. Spears has requested that her father be removed as conservator and for a financial institution to take control of her estate. In February of this year, a judge denied this request and ruled that both Jamie Spears and the financial institution would oversee Britney’s financial affairs. Britney will attend a hearing on June 23 to address the ongoing legal battle.

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Lombard guardianship attorneyWe generally think about guardianship with regard to guardianship of children, however, this is not the only type of legal guardianship that exists. When a person cannot care for themselves due to a disability, old age, or a debilitating illness, a family member may take on the responsibility of caring for him or her. Sometimes, visiting the person several times a week and helping with certain errands and tasks is enough while other people need much more extensive assistance. For situations in which a person needs significant help, you may consider guardianship. Seeking guardianship of an adult may be the best way to ensure a disabled adult is receiving the care he or she needs, but the process is not always simple.

When Do Courts Grant Guardianship of Adults?

In Illinois, guardianship of a person over age 18 only takes place through the court system. Before a court will assign someone to be another person’s guardian, it must first confirm that the disabled or sick individual needs this level of assistance. The court will evaluate to what degree the disabled person is incapacitated by mental illness, cognitive decline, physical ailment, developmental disability, or another issue. In some situations, a drug or alcohol addiction may also be considered disabling enough to qualify a person for guardianship. The court will determine the level of incapacitation the disabled person experiences and the particular responsibilities that he or she cannot accomplish for himself or herself. Next, the court will determine what type of guardian should be selected.

Guardian of the Estate Versus Guardian of the Person

While there are many types of guardianship in Illinois, they fall into two main categories: guardian of the estate and guardian of the person. When the disabled person only needs help with making financial decisions, the court will likely assign someone to be their guardian of the estate. If the disabled person cannot make healthcare and medical decisions on his or her own, the court may appoint a guardian of the person. In the event that a disabled person needs both types of guardians, one person can fulfill both of these roles or a separate person can be assigned to each role. An individual in need of a guardian may nominate the person(s) he or she wants to act as guardian, but the court must approve this decision.

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Lombard, IL adult guardianship attorneyWhen one thinks of being a guardian, the image of a parent taking care of a child often comes to mind. However, guardianships are not reserved solely for parents and their children. According to Illinois law, a guardian is a person, institution, or agency appointed by the Probate Court to manage the affairs of another, called the ward. 

Because a person is considered an adult at the age of 18, they typically no longer have a legal guardian after their 18th birthday. However, like most laws, there are exceptions. There are four reasons why an adult would be assigned a legal guardian, all of which surround the adult’s health. The four qualifications for the need of a guardian are mental deterioration, physical incapacity, mental illness, and/or a developmental disability. Depending on the circumstances, there are several different types of guardianships allowed in Illinois.

Types of Guardianships

For guardianships that are not between an adult and a child, the details of the arrangement can vary with each situation, and they will be determined by the court based on the ward’s health. Types of guardianships include:

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Posted on in Children

The idea of both you and your spouse dying before your young children become adults may seem unfathomable.  Every day, however, illness or accidents leave children without a parent.  If you have not chosen a guardian, the courts would determine guardianship.  The courts may not choose the person you would have chosen.  Do not risk this scenario.  Using guidelines and proper legal counsel can make the decision easier.

Who Do I Choose?

Choosing a family member may seem like the natural choice but it may not always be the right choice. You should weigh the suitability of your family members as you would any potential guardian.  Here are some things to consider when determining a potential guardian:

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