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Responsibilities of a Guardian in Illinois

Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
November 1, 2019

In this article, we will explain the responsibilities of guardians in Illinois, including: “what are the responsibilities of a guardian of a minor in Illinois?” and “what are the responsibilities of a guardian of a disabled adult in Illinois?”  In the context of disabled adults, we will explain the difference between guardianship of the person and guardianship of the estate.  In general, a guardian’s role is to step in when necessary to make decisions and give consent to things a ward lacks the capability to do on his or her own.

What are the Responsibilities of a Guardian of a Minor in Illinois?

If a person is appointed the guardian of a minor, he or she will generally provide whatever care and make decisions that would have been the responsibility of the parents. This includes looking after the minor’s physical and mental well-being, providing suitable housing or living arrangements, ensuring that the child is receiving a proper education, and making sure the minor has access to healthcare treatment when necessary.

Other responsibilities could include applying for public assistance benefits (such as health insurance, food benefits, etc.) on behalf of the minor, or applying for public housing on behalf of the minor if the situation warrants. In some cases, it could be the responsibility of the guardian to file a lawsuit on behalf of the minor.

The guardian will also receive and maintain any money due to the minor for his or her care and support. The guardian must, at all times, act in the best financial interest of the minor and be conscientious of how this money is being spent. The guardian must keep detailed records of expenditures, as he or she must file a yearly report with the court that appointed him or her as guardian.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Guardian of a Disabled Adult in Illinois?

When a guardian for a disabled adult has been appointed by a court, the court will grant him or her only the responsibilities necessary to accomplish what the ward cannot do independently. This means that wards are allowed to make as many of their own decisions as are physically and mentally possible. An important duty of the guardian is to facilitate the independence of the ward, and make sure the ward is self-reliant as possible.  

Guardianship responsibilities can be divided by the courts between guardianship of the person and guardianship of the estate (or custodianship).  Guardianship in either of these areas may be either plenary or limited.  A plenary guardianship grants all of the powers and responsibilities defined below.  A limited guardianship grants only the responsibilities specifically enumerated by the court’s order.

Responsibilities of a Guardian of the Person for a Disabled Adult in Illinois

Basic roles of a guardian of the person include making decisions about the living arrangement of the incapacitated person, how medical and personal care will be provided, and how the ward will receive meals, transportation, socialization and recreation.

With respect to living arrangements, the guardian must determine the feasibility of a living situation, based on the physical, mental and financial considerations of the ward. The guardian must also look into what benefits or assistance programs are available to help cover the cost of a living arrangement, such as residing in a long-term care facility. If the incapacitated person does live in a facility, the guardian is responsible for making sure their ward’s needs are met and that he or she is receiving the appropriate care.  Changes in living arrangements typically require the approval of the court, unless this power is specifically granted in a previous court order.

With respect to medical care, the guardian ensures the ward has the necessary level of health insurance coverage, is under the care of the correct medical professionals, and has access to potential medical care and treatment. The guardian must ensure the health care providers have all pertinent information for the ward, such as health records and insurance information. The guardian should also be aware of whether the ward is eligible or becomes eligible for programs such as Medicaid, SSI or municipal welfare, and will apply on behalf of the ward for these programs. It’s important that the guardian keep up-to-date and accurate records of these benefits, as well as receipts from other medical and treatment bills.

When it comes to deciding the medical care of the incapacitated person, that individual’s desires are given primary consideration. This means that a guardian is responsible for adhering to previously stated wishes of the individual, such as end-of-life treatment. As mentioned before, the primary responsibility of a guardian is to act in the best interest of the ward and have a role in decision making only when an individual is incapable of doing so on his or her own.

Guardians of the person may be required by the court to file periodic reports on a schedule determined by the court.  These reports typically include a description of living arrangements, updates on the ward’s condition, and any other information requested by the court.  

Responsibilities of a Guardian of the Estate for a Disabled Adult in Illinois?

A guardian of the estate has responsibilities that differ greatly from a guardian of the person. The guardian of the estate manages the finances of the ward, making investment decisions regarding assets and liabilities, managing income from assets, and paying the ward’s bills.  

The guardian of the estate starts by identifying the individual’s assets, such as bank accounts, stocks and bonds owned, life insurance policies, real estate, business interests, vehicles, monthly income or payments from the government, pension plans, insurance companies, or any other sources.   Once these are identified, the guardian of the estate maintains detailed records of assets, liabilities, income, and expenditures.

A guardian is typically required to open a guardianship account to deposit funds (such as various forms of monthly income). The law requires assets belonging to the incapacitated person must remain separate from those of the guardian.

The guardian of the estate must file a yearly report with the court that appointed the guardian. The report will include an inventory of assets and liabilities.  It will also detail any income received by the guardian on behalf of the ward and any expenses paid by the guardian on behalf of the ward.  The report is due 30 days after the anniversary of the court appointment. A copy of the report is to be sent to the ward and possibly others, such as the ward’s family, who have requested a copy.

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Responsibilities of a Guardian of the Person for a Disabled Adult in Illinois

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