Some families have children or relatives that, because of disabilities, require a guardian to handle their care and other needs. However, some people may fear a guardian would have too much power and could abuse it. In reality, state guardianships do not have unlimited power. According to the Illinois State Bar Association, state law limits the powers of guardians in various ways.
To start with, many types of guardianships have particular duties. Some guardianships will have powers that other guardians will not. A guardianship of the estate grants a guardian responsibility over the legal and financial matters of a ward. A guardian of the person will oversee personal care issues, like where the ward lives and the health care the ward receives.
At times, a court may specifically limit the duties of a guardian. Under limited guardianships, a court will spell out specific duties a guardian may have in a court order. A court may limit a guardian of the estate or a guardian of the person in this manner, giving either type of guardian more limited powers than they would possess otherwise.
In general, guardians cannot perform certain actions on behalf of a ward without a court order. These can include the following:
- Sterilizing a ward
- Placing a ward in a nursing home
- Placing a ward in a mental institution
- Petitioning a court for divorce on behalf of a ward
- Consenting to the ward entering into marriage
People who want to know about specific limits on a guardian may benefit from asking an experienced attorney about the matter. Guardians are important for safeguarding the health and safety of a disabled person, but guardians should never become a danger to the well-being of the people they should protect.