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How Do I Know If My Loved One Needs a Legal Guardian?Minors are accustomed to having a legal guardian who makes large decisions for them. While they may have some say in the matter, the final decision is left to the older party. Unfortunately, some individuals must experience this more than once in their life. Older people or those with disabilities often have to allow a legal guardian to take on the “official” responsibility of legal decision-making. Being the party taking on the guardianship responsibility can be emotionally and physically taxing, but recognizing that your loved one needs help could save them from making irreparable legal decisions.

Signs That Your Loved One Needs Help

Guardianships are most commonly issued when someone has a mental disability or when someone’s age affects their clarity of mind. However, just because a person has mental disabilities does not mean that they should have a legal guardian. The purpose of legal guardianship is to make legal decisions for another person when they have the inability to do so. Thus, potential guardians should evaluate their loved one and their ability to engage in the decision-making process. The Illinois Guardianship & Advocacy Commission suggests answering the following four questions to gauge your loved one’s mental capacity for making decisions:

  1. Do they understand that a particular decision needs to be made?
  2. Do they understand the options available in any given decision?
  3. Do they understand the consequences of each available option?
  4. After making the decision, are they able to properly inform appropriate parties?

My Loved One Needs Help, But Can I Be Their Guardian?

There are regulations on who can act as a legal guardian to ensure that the individual’s best interests are upheld. Any individual who is over the age of 18, has a “sound” mind, has not been convicted of a serious crime, and is deemed acceptable by the court is eligible to be a legal guardian. Potential guardians must be able to provide the court with proof of an active and suitable course of action for the individual. In some cases, agencies may be appointed as legal guardians – excluding banking institutions and those providing residential services to the individual. Whether private or public, agencies can often provide more active guardianship than the individual’s loved one since they do not have the same emotional ties to the individual. However, family or friends can make the best guardians in some cases since their desire to make good decisions for the individual has a personal connection behind it. 

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Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission, Illinois Law, Guardianship, Illinois Family Law, Illinois Family Lawyer, Illinois Family Law Attorney, Arlington Heights Family Law Attorney, Legal Guardian, Health Care Surrogate Act, Disabled Adult, Power of AttorneyTaking care of a disabled adult, or helping them care for themselves, can be one of the most stressful and difficult ordeals a person and family can go through. In many cases, families consider assuming legal guardianship to make things easier. However, this is often the most restrictive alternative available to the disabled person. There are many alternatives to assuming guardianship in Illinois available under the law.

According to the Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission, it is important to explore the alternatives to guardianship before making a decision. After all, guardianship often means having the family’s private affairs examined publicly in court, and inviting court supervision for the future. Whenever possible, the situation should first be discussed with a team of professionals, including medical staff, social workers, caretakers, and an experienced attorney as well as family and friends.

Under Illinois law, an alternate means of medical decision-making for the disabled individual may be established under the Health Care Surrogate Act for a person who has become incapacitated.

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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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Posted on in Divorce

Jonathan Sporn, a 54 year-old pharmaceuticals executive, and his partner Leann Leutner, a lawyer, were living together in New York City when they decided to start a family. They sought the assistance of an anonymous sperm donor, and last July, Leutner gave birth to a healthy boy.

In December, Leutner took the baby and moved to New Jersey. Tragically, on New Year’s Day, Leutner, who had struggled with postpartum depression, committed suicide. The New York Times has reported that there had been previous attempts to take her own life and a long history of psychological difficulty made worse by the postpartum depression.

3.27.13.Kerry. Taub .DivBut because of the couple’s unmarried status, Child Protective Services didn’t recognize Sporn as the baby’s father and placed the baby in foster care. Sporn has filed a petition for custody of the baby, as has Leutner’s sister, who lives in Illinois. The court has deemed that both homes are appropriate for the baby, and yet he is still in a New York City foster home until the court decides who should have custody.

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