Every year, many families in Illinois have to make difficult decisions about their most vulnerable members. Older adults often require many of the same kinds of support that children do. They may require someone else to manage their finances and meet their basic needs, like ensuring that they eat three meals a day. They may also require support making decisions about their health and how they manage their household.
Unfortunately, those who have lived independently for years are often unwilling to surrender even a modicum of control over their daily lives. Family members may worry that seeking a guardianship will damage the bond that they have with an older adult, even though they know that guardianship is sometimes necessary for the protection of those who are unable to truly take care of themselves.
When should family members consider pursuing a guardianship in the Illinois courts?
When someone can’t act in their own best interests
Sometimes, the need for guardianship is obvious. Someone has a stroke or experiences a debilitating car crash and is left unconscious for months. In such a scenario, there’s little question that the incapacitated adult requires someone else to manage their affairs.
However, there are other circumstances in which guardianship will be necessary. The state will award someone guardianship when an adult can no longer communicate on their own behalf or when they no longer act in their own best interests. Someone incapable of managing their own affairs or who has demonstrated an ability to manage their finances may require guardianship.
How do families prove the situation meets the standard?
There are numerous ways for concerned family members to convince the courts that a guardianship is necessary. Medical records are often important in such cases, although personal records can also be important.
For example, there might be financial documents showing that someone has failed to pay utility bills or rent several times in the last year. Statements showing that they have been too confused to manage their own households or that they have made questionable choices about their care and finances could also help develop the claim that someone needs a guardian.
Only in cases where someone has lost the capacity to manage their own affairs and act in their own best interests will the courts give someone else the authority to act on their behalf. Reviewing a situation with a legal professional to see if it aligns with state standards can help families make informed decisions about whether guardianship may be necessary.