If you have a family member with special needs, they may have a guardian to protect them. However, when a court awards such power to an individual, there is always a risk they abuse it.

Guardians play a critical role. If a person cannot manage their personal and financial affairs alone, a court may give someone else the power to do this for them. They often use it for people born with a mental illness and older adults when they get Alzheimer’s or other memory-related conditions. Courts can also award guardianship in the case of people with physical disabilities. There are two types of guardianship in Illinois: guardianship of the person and guardianship of their estate.

What grounds can you challenge a guardian on?

To challenge someone’s guardianship, you need to prove that they are doing something wrong. You cannot contest it just because you disagree with a few decisions. Here are a few reasons to file a challenge:

  • Lack of transparency: Guardians have to report to the court annually. They need to account for all actions they take on behalf of their ward.
  • Failing to comply: A guardian must not ignore the role. If they do not have the time to do it, they should step down and pass on the responsibility. Failing to carry out their duties could adversely affect the person they should be helping.
  • Abuse of their position: Having control over someone else’s finances might tempt a person into using them for their benefit.
  • Abuse of the person: Abuse is never OK, especially targeting someone vulnerable.

If you suspect someone is misusing their powers of guardianship, there are legal recourses available. Their power has limits.