What Happens if a Guardian Dies?

When Does a Guardianship End in Illinois?

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

In this article we will explain the different ways that a guardianship can end in Illinois.  Since guardianship is a court-appointed order, only an order from a court can end or modify an existing guardianship. However, there are instances when a guardianship may end without court involvement. We will explain what happens if a guardian dies, what happens to a guardianship if the ward dies, what happens if a guardian resigns, “when does a guardianship of a minor end?”, and “how can guardianship of an incapacitated adult end?

What Happens if a Guardian Dies?

Death of either the guardian or the ward can bring an immediate end to the guardianship. In the case of the guardian’s death, a Petition for Successor Guardianship is required to ask the court to appoint a new guardian for the ward, if necessary. An emergency guardianship may also be initiated during this time to ensure the ward, whether minor or adult, is receiving the proper care between the time that the original guardian dies and the time that a new permanent guardian is appointed.

What Happens to a Guardianship if the Ward Dies?

If the ward dies, the guardian’s responsibilities immediately terminate and the guardian may not make any further expenditures from the ward’s assets, if that was part of the guardian’s role as appointed by the court. Manners such as funeral arrangements are typically handled by the family and are not considered a guardian’s responsibility upon the death of the ward.

What Happens if a Guardian Resigns?

If a guardian becomes incapable or is no longer willing to perform their duties as guardian, he or she may ask the court’s permission to step down. A court hearing will be scheduled for the resignation of the guardian, and a notice of time, place and date must be sent to those who were notified when the guardianship was first appointed.  Upon a guardian’s resignation, a successor guardian will be appointed to assume the decision-making and other care responsibilities of the ward.

‍When Does a Guardianship End in Illinois?

When Does Guardianship of a Minor End?

A guardianship of a minor comes to an end when the child becomes of legal age (18). As mentioned earlier, the death of the minor can also be the cause of an end to the guardianship. In some instances, a judge may determine that guardianship of the minor is no longer necessary, thus ending the guardianship.

The parents of the minor have the right to petition with the court to have the guardianship of their child terminated. This is called a Petition to Discharge.  The parent(s) must provide sufficient evidence that they are capable of providing the necessary care for the child. For more on the Petition to Discharge, check out our article, “Can the Guardianship Arrangement Be Challenged?

How Can Guardianship of an Incapacitated Adult End?

The guardianship of an incapacitated adult can come to an end in three primary ways: the death of the ward or guardian, resignation of the guardian, or the restoration of the ward’s rights, meaning the ward has overcome his or her disability that required guardianship and is now capable of providing their own care.

Restoring a ward’s rights is accomplished through a process similar to the appointment of the guardian.   The person seeking to restore the ward’s rights must file a petition with the court with jurisdiction over the guardianship, provide notice to the proper parties,  and then present evidence at a court hearing to demonstrate that the court-appointed guardianship should be terminated. This process is discussed more in depth in our article, “Can the Guardianship Arrangement Be Challenged?”.

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What Happens to a Guardianship if the Ward Dies?

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