In this article we discuss guardianship of adults with disabilities. We’ll explain HB 4686, a law that went into effect in 2019 that bans the court from appointing guardians who are employees of an agency that provides residential services to the ward. We’ll answer the questions, “What is a court-appointed guardian of someone with disabilities,” and “Who can serve as a guardian of a person with disabilities?”
For more on guardianship generally, check out our article: Illinois Guardianship Explained.
When an adult is no longer able to make safe, reasonable decisions, an Illinois court can appoint an individual, relative or non-relative, to serve as a legal guardian. This legal relationship removes some or all legal decision-making rights of the person with disabilities, deeming him or her legally unable to provide for his or her own physical, emotional, medical and residential needs. An incapacitated adult who has a legal guardian is oftentimes referred to as a “ward.”
A court-appointed guardian is someone who has been granted authority by a court to care for and take responsibility for making decisions for a person who is unable to care of himself or herself. A court will appoint a guardian after the potential guardian has established that he or she will act in the best interest of the person with disabilities.
A person can serve as a guardian to a person with disabilities and/or a guardian of the estate of a person with disabilities if they meet the following requirements:
· Is at least 18 years old
· Is a U.S. resident
· Is of sound mind
· Is not an adjudged person with a disability as defined in state law
· Has not been convicted of a felony (with some exceptions allowed by the court)
Public agencies and not-for-profit corporations also can serve as guardians unless they directly provide residential services to the ward. Illinois law was recently updated to add employees of agencies providing residential services to this list of people who are not allowed to serve as guardians.
For more information on adult guardianship, check out our article: Illinois Guardianship Explained. We also have an article that explains visitation rights of disabled adults who have guardianship.