What is a Legal Guardian?

How do Courts Decide Who to Appoint as a Guardian in Illinois

Video by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
October 28, 2019

In this article, we answer the question, "how do courts decide who to appoint as a guardian in Illinois?"  We also answer the following: "what is a legal guardian?", "what are the statutory requirements to be a legal guardian in Illinois?", "what factors to courts use to determine who will be named as guardian in Illinois?

What is a Legal Guardian?

A legal guardian is someone who is legally declared as responsible for another person.  Often, guardians are thought of as being used primarily for guardianship over minor children whose parents are unfit or unable to take care of the child. This is one major situation where legal guardians are involved, but they are also often used for developmentally disabled adults who need extra assistance as well as senior citizens who are incapacitated.  A legal guardian is often responsible for much of the legal responsibilities of the person such as giving them a place to live, protection, and food/clothing.  

For more on this, check out our article: What is a Court Appointed Guardian?

What are the Statutory Requirements to be a Legal Guardian in Illinois?

The bare minimum requirements for a person to be declared a guardian are relatively simple.  The potential guardian must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.

  • Live within the United States.

  • Be of “sound mind.”

  • Not be disabled or incapacitated.

  • Not be a felon or pose a threat to the person.

What Factors Do Courts Consider to Determine Who Will Be Named As Guardian?

There are also other factors to consider when deciding on a guardian.  Some important aspects that will be considered when appointing a legal guardian are:

  • Can the potential guardian afford to take care of another person?

  • Does the potential guardian have the time to commit to a guardianship?

  • Is the potential guardian physically fit enough to take on the responsibilities of guardianship?
  • Does the guardian have a pre-established relationship with the person? The level of familiarity between the guardian and the person they are looking to have a guardianship over can significantly impact the success of the guardianship.

Guardianship laws can be unique depending on the state, so if you are looking to establish guardianship, it is highly recommended that you reach out to an attorney beforehand.  If you are located in the state of Illinois, we have several locations across Chicagoland and would be happy to help you with your guardianship or other family law case.  You can call us here at 630-324-6666 or email us at info@oflaherty-law.com.

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What is Required to be a Legal Guardian?

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