May 15, 2018
Unfortunately, issues often arise relating to the care and protection of disabled adults. These issues most often occur with older adults. In fact, according to the National Council on Aging, approximately 1 in 10 Americans over age 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse. Yet, at least one study estimates that only 1 in 14 cases of abuse are ever reported to authorities.

Guardianship is an effective measure to protect disabled adults. Who is the best person to be a guardian? Under the law in most states, any person over the age of 18 who is not disabled and has not been convicted of a felony may act as a guardian. The law also allows a bank or a non-profit agency to act as a guardian if necessary.

Typically, a guardian is a family member who is active in the disabled adult’s care. The person who wishes to be a guardian must file a “petition” with the court. The petition should be filed in the county courthouse where the disabled person lives. It is not necessary for the guardian and the disabled person to live in the same county or even the same state.

If the judge approves the petition to become guardian of a disabled or incapacitated adult, the petitioner is thereby “appointed” to be the guardian. The newly-appointed guardian will receive by mail from the county clerk, official “Letters of Office.” These “letters” are actually a single piece of paper with the clerk’s seal naming the type of guardianship granted, person or estate. Take great care with this document: You will need to make several copies, as it will be used to demonstrate your authority to act on behalf of the disabled adult.

After receiving the Letters of Office, there are several steps that need to be taken immediately. One step is to notify the disabled person’s health care provider of the guardianship appointment. Another step is to notify the disabled person’s bank. Additionally, there are items that must be performed on an annual basis. These steps and items are considered guardian “estate administration.”

Andrew Hays and his legal team at Hays Firm LLC in Chicago are knowledgeable guardianship attorneys who have a great deal of experience with advising clients on how to protect the rights of their loved ones. Please contact us to talk about how we can help.