What is a Guardian and Who Can Qualify?

August 2, 2017

Step up To Becoming a Guardian at the Gate -- Courtesy of BrightStar Care/Evanston

It has not been the best year for Mom or Dad or even both of them. They've been forgetting  things, leaving the stove or iron on, and they (and you) are dealing constantly with illnesses. They're not very aware or alert and have begun putting themselves or others at risk. As much as the idea is uncomfortable and disconcerting, you know it's time to help by taking control . You want to be a guardian at their gate, so you can protect them, provide support, keep their defenses up and relieve them of the burdens and other bothersome affairs of daily life. So what's being a guardian all about? We're a different kind of guardian at BrightStar Care/Evanston -- we stand at the ready to help in any way we can inside the home. A certified caregiver may have some of those responsibilities, but duties of a guardian are more extensive  defined. Let's jump into some basics.

What is a Guardian?

A guardian is the person who accepts the Court’s appointment to be responsible for making decisions for an individual generally considered to be incapacitated. The term used here is actually IP, meaning Incapacitated Person. We prefer the term "ward," which not only seems nicer, but would not be confused with IP companies who handle your Internet services. That is a joke. There are three basic types of adult guardian: Guardian of the Person; Guardian of the Estate or Property; and Plenary Guardianship. We will not add Guardian Angel because very special requirements are needed to qualify and few do. Each kind of guardian has different duties:
  • Guardian of the Person: Assists with issues affecting the incapacitated person’s health or medical condition. Duties here consist of making hospital appointments, paying medical and other bills, being the liaison with assisted living, securing medical coverage and insurance for the person. A guardian of the person is typically named in a document known as an advance medical directive.
  • Guardian of the Estate or Guardian of the Property: Here, the guardian is responsible for the person’s estate, property, and assets. Duties (services)  can include filing taxes, knowing the extent of property assets, distributing property items, managing bank and other financial accounts, and investing property and properly in a wise, responsible manner.
  • Plenary Guardian: This guardian takes a lot on by assuming the duties of a guardian of the person and the duties of a guardian of the estate. As plenary guardian (bless you), you are is legally in charge of handling both the person’s medical matters, and personal property matters, as well.

The Most Demanding Duties of a Guardian

There are some tough roads (or is it rows) to hoe as a guardian, including determining where the individual will live, being able to respect and maximize their independence, but perhaps the most challenging duty involves end-of-life decisions. Follow that link for a really informative article on end-of-life care.

Who Can Qualify As Guardian?

The court decides if the person seeking guardianship is a good-fit and responsible enough to handle the job. If more than one person wants to be guardian -- (papa is an ace, fun to have around and also an amazing handyman and physician)-- the court will again determine who the best candidate will be. The ward’s wishes, (hopefully written down), and any other legal documents that state desired actions , such as a Will   or Advanced Directive, factored into this decision, when possible. Many states give preference to the ward’s spouse or partner and family members as guardians, since these are the people who know the ward best and are mos likely to have personal knowledge of the individual and their unique needs. If no one is able to willing to assume that role, then a professional guardian or public guardian may be appointed.

Steps You Need to Take

These are the bare bones of the steps you'll need to follow to become certified as a guardian. Click on the following link for more more detailed information from the Center for Guardianship Information.
  1. File a petition for guarianship
  2. Attend a hearing
  3. File your court order
  4. Request letters of guarandship

Find More Help

At BrightStar Care/Evanston and Bright Care North Suburban we have faithful and trusted allies we recommend. One of them is You'll understand why we respect them and recommend them after you make the following investigations of some superb articles. You can obtain additional help from the good, old government and since every state differs on legal requirements, visit the Practitioner's Guide to Adult Guardianship in Illinois.

On Guard in Your Home with BrightStar Care/Evanston

For guarded in-home care and compassionate attention, turn to us at BrightStar Care/Evanston for a range of senior services, from Home care, Elder care, and Daily Caregivers to Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care and far beyond. Check out our website at www.brightstarcare/north-suburban and/or call 847-510-5750 any time of day or night. CLICK HERE FOR A FREE AT-HOME CONSULTATION