What are the usual steps to appointing a guardian?

Posted: January 12, 2012 6:06 pm

Question: “What are the usual steps to appointing a guardian?”

Answer: When it is suspected or determined that guardianship may be necessary in a given situation, the first step is to locate an attorney familiar with the guardianship process. Guardianship is complicated and an experienced attorney will make the process much simpler for the petitioner.

The attorney will draft a petition which is essentially a legal document notifying the court that a person is disabled and believed to need a guardian, and that a specific person or agency has been nominated to act in this role. In most states the petitioner will also need to provide the court with a Physician’s Report attesting to the incapacity of the prospective ward. In Illinois, there are five questions regarding the potential ward’s mental capacity and ability to function that the physician must answer in the report for court.

The attorney will file these documents with the court and a hearing will ensue shortly thereafter. It is at this hearing that the judge hears evidence regarding the disabled person’s status and alleged need for a guardian. Some guardianships are contested, meaning the prospective ward or another interested party believes the guardianship is unnecessary or that a guardian other than the nominated party should act – these individuals have an opportunity to be heard at the hearing, as well.

Once the disabled person is adjudicated incompetent and the guardian is appointed, the court will issue an order to this effect. The guardian will obtain Letters of Office that document the existence of the guardianship and establish that the presenter is, in fact, the guardian. This document is very important when the guardian is attempting to conduct business on the ward’s behalf.

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