Getting Guardianship of a Disabled Adult

Getting Guardianship of a Disabled Adult

Last updated: December 2011

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You can get guardianship of an individual over the age of 18 if they have a disability. A "disabled person" is someone who cannot fully take care of themselves or their property.You can be a guardian if you:Are 18 years or olderLive in the United StatesAre of sound mindAre not disabled yourself, andDo not have a felony on your record, orHave a felony on your record, but it is in the disabled person’s best interest.Click on words that appear like 'this' to learn what these words mean.Can I get guardianship of an adult? Yes. You can get guardianship of an adult - a person over the age of 18 - if they have a disability. A "disabled person" is someone who cannot fully take care of themselves or their property. Their property is called the “estate.” The disability can be mental or physical. This includes:Mental decline that comes with ageMental illnessDisability that started as a childPhysical disabilitiesIt also includes someone who cannot control their behavior. This includes someone who wastes their estate on gambling, alcohol, or drug use. Their behavior must cause problems for themselves or their family. Who can become a guardian? You can be a guardian if you:Are 18 years or olderLive in the United StatesAre of sound mindAre not disabled yourself, andDo not have a felony on your record, orHave a felony on your record, but it is in the disabled person’s best interest.If you meet these requirements, a court will then decide if you are qualified to act as a guardian.Do I need a lawyer to get guardianship of an adult? In some cases, you can do it yourself without a lawyer. You should talk to a lawyer before you file your case if:The adult would not want you to be guardian;A relative of the adult would not want you to be guardian;The adult owns any real estate;The adult owns any assets, such as a bank account;The adult gets a pension, and the pension holder says they must have a guardian of the estate;The adult has a Power of Attorney. This means they have already given someone the power to make decisions for them;You suspect physical, mental, or financial abuse;The adult has an emergency that cannot wait. The emergency can be health or money-related. It will take at least 30 days to get guardianship on your own. If any of the above apply in your case, you should talk to a lawyer right away. You can search the "Helpful Organizations" section below to find free legal help.If none of these apply, then you should be able to file for guardianship on your own. To do that, follow the instructions in this guide.Are there different kinds of guardianship? Yes. There are 2 different kinds. You can ask for either or both kinds, based on what kind of care the adult needs. Guardianship of the PersonA disabled person may need a guardianship of the person if:They cannot make medical decisions for themselves;They cannot make decisions about living on their own.Guardianship of the EstateA disabled person may need a guardianship of the estate if they cannot make decisions about money for themselves.A “representative payeeship” may handle benefits such as Social Security and pensions. The payee is a person chosen by the Social Security Administration (SSA). They will handle a disabled person's benefits issues. Visit the SSA's website for more information about representative payees. Guardianship of the estate is not needed where there are only Social Security payments and a payee has been chosen.This is much harder than getting guardianship of the person. It is best to get a lawyer to help you with this. In Cook County, you must have a lawyer. If you can not afford a lawyer, search the "Helpful Organizations" section below to find free legal help. For a referral to a private lawyer, contact the Chicago Bar Association at (312) 554-2000.How does the guardian make decisions for the adult? The guardian should make decisions for the adult based on:What the adult would have done The adult's beliefs, such as their religious and moral views A guardian must use "substituted judgment." You must try to make decisions that are as close as possible to what the adult would have done. If you are not sure what the adult would have done, decide based on the best interest of the adult.What information do I need to fill out the adult guardianship forms? To get guardianship of an adult, you will need to fill out several forms and file them in court. You will need the following information:An estimate of the adult’s personal assets. This includes things like bank accounts and cars;A list of any real estate the adult owns;The adult’s yearly income. This includes pensions, social security, disability, and wages;A list of the adult’s closing living relatives;A doctor’s report. An Illinois doctor must examine the adult no more than 3 months from the date you file your forms. You can get all of the forms you need, with instructions for filling them out, in the "Forms/Letters” section. What do I do once I have prepared the forms? To get guardianship of an adult, you will need to file your petition with the court clerk. Also, file the other forms listed in the "Forms/Letters" section. Then, you will have to get a hearing date from the court clerk.After you are given a hearing date, you must have the Sheriff serve the Summons on the disabled person. You must also send notices of the hearing to all of the disabled person's adult relatives.The "Instructions" section of this guide explains this process in greater detail.What do I do on the court date? When you go to the hearing, you must bring:Stamped copies of all of your formsProof that the adult and their relatives got the summons and noticesAn order for the judge to sign if they decide to give you guardianshipThere are 3 different kinds of orders. Make sure you have the correct order for your kind of case.The disabled person should come to court if they can. If they cannot come because of their disability, bring proof. For example, bring a doctor's note that says why they cannot come to court. Most likely, the court will have appointed someone to appear in court on behalf of the disabled person. Once I am guardian, will I have other responsibilities to the court? Yes. If the court makes you guardian of an adult, you must remember the following:A court must approve any change in where the adult is living;You must complete a yearly report and give it to the court;If the adult dies, you have to tell the court;You must tell the court if you can no longer be the guardian;Prepare Your Forms You can get all of the forms that you will need in the "Forms/Letters" section of this guide. You will need:Probate Division Cover Sheet - Staple this to the front of the original Petition;Petition for Appointment of Guardian for Disabled Person - You will need the original and 5 copies;Exhibit A - You will need the original and 5 copies.You will need the original and 3 copies of these forms:Summons for the Appointment of Guardian for Disabled Person with Notice of Rights of RespondentNotice of Motion to the Respondent's Relatives - A Notice of Motion and a copy of the Petition must be sent to everyone who is listed on Exhibit A;Order Appointing Plenary Guardian of Disabled Person – Should be filed prior to your court date;Order Appointing Limited Guardian of Disabled Person – Should be filed prior to your court date.You will need the originals and 1 copy of these forms:Oath and Bond of Representative;CCP-211 Doctor's Report;Order Appointing Guardian Ad Litem of Disabled Person - Bring a blank Order to your court date.File Your Case in Court Take your completed forms and copies to the Probate Court Clerk in Room 1202 of the Richard J. Daley Center at Dearborn and Washington.You will have to pay a filing fee of about $137 or $162, and there might be other fees related to the case. If you cannot afford to pay the fee, you may qualify to have your filing fees waived. Go to "Related Articles" for information about how to waive your court costs.Be sure to ask which "Disabled Calendar" the case has been assigned to. This will include the name of the judge who is hearing the case and the room number where the hearing will take place.Get a Court Date Go to the courtroom of the judge to whom the case has been assigned. Tell the clerk you need to get a date for a guardianship hearing. You must write the address, courtroom number, time, and date of the hearing on every copy of the Summons, Notice of Rights, Petition, and Notice of Motion.Issue the Summons Go to the Probate Court Clerk, in Room 1202, to have the Summons issued. The clerk behind the "Forms" desk will be able to help you.Arrange for Service of Respondent You must serve the respondent with notice of the hearing at least 14 days before the hearing date. This means you should place your Summons with the Sheriff's Office immediately to make sure the respondent is served on time. Go to the Sheriff's office on the 7th Floor. You must make sure that the disabled person gets the Petition, Notice of the Hearing and Notice of Rights. The delivery of these forms is called “service.” This must be done by the Sheriff's department. You cannot do it yourself.Sheriff's fees are $60.00 for service of one respondent in in Cook County.If the disabled person can come with you to the Sheriff's office, and has identification, they can be served at the Sheriff customer service window. This is called "window service." There will be a $23.00 fee.If you are petitioning for a disabled adult who is just about to reach 18 years of age, filing must be done after their 18th birthday.Send Notice of the Hearing to the Respondent's Relatives You must do this at least 14 days before the hearing date.Mail the Petition and the Notice of Motion with the court date, time, and location to all the people (called "parties") listed on Exhibit A. This should include any spouse, adult child, or sibling (brother or sister) of the disabled person. The Notice of Motion tells all parties that they can come to the hearing. If the disabled person does not have any of these relatives, or if the relatives cannot be found, notice must then be given to any next of kin that you can find.Keep a copy of each Notice of Motion and fill out the "Proof of Service by Delivery" or "Proof of Service by Mail" section. Bring two copies of these forms to the hearing to prove you gave notice to all parties. Prepare Your Forms You can get all of the forms that you will need in the "Forms/Letters" section of this guide. You will need:Probate Division Cover Sheet - Staple this to the front of the original Petition;Petition for Appointment of Guardian for Disabled Person - You will need the original and 5 copies;Exhibit A - You will need the original and 5 copies.You will need the original and 3 copies of this form:Summons for the Appointment of Guardian for Disabled Person with Notice of Rights of Respondent;Notice of Motion to the Respondent's Relatives - A Notice of Motion and a copy of the Petition must be sent to everyone who is listed on Exhibit A;Order Appointing Plenary Guardian of Disabled Person – Should be filed prior to your court date;Order Appointing Limited Guardian of Disabled Person – Should be filed prior to your court date.You will need the originals and 1 copy of these forms:Oath and Bond of Representative;CCP-211 Doctor's Report;Order Appointing Guardian Ad Litem of Disabled Person - Bring a blank Order to your court date.File Your Case in Court Guardianship for a disabled adult can only be done in the Probate Division in Chicago at the Daley Center. Even if you live in the suburbs, you will have to go downtown eventually to get guardianship of a disabled adult. Take your completed forms and copies to the Probate Court Clerk in Room 1202 of the Richard J. Daley Center at Dearborn and Washington.You will have to pay a filing fee of about $137 or $162 and there might be other fees related to the case. If you cannot afford to pay the fee, you may qualify to have your filing fees waived. Go to "Related Articles" for information about how to waive your court costs.Be sure to ask which "Disabled Calendar" the case has been assigned to. This will include the name of the Judge who is hearing the case and the room number where the hearing will take place.Get a Court Date Go to the courtroom of the judge to whom the case has been assigned. Tell the clerk you need to get a date for a guardianship hearing. You must write the address, courtroom number, time, and date of the hearing on every copy of the Summons, Notice of Rights, Petition, and Notice of Motion.Issue the Summons Go to the Probate Court Clerk, in Room 1202, to have the Summons issued. The clerk behind the "Forms" desk will be able to help you.Arrange for Service of Respondent You must serve the respondent with notice of the hearing at least 14 days before the hearing date. This means you should place your Summons with the Sheriff's office immediately to make sure the respondent is served on time. Go to the Sheriff's office on the 7th Floor. You must make sure that the disabled person gets the Petition, Notice of the Hearing and Notice of Rights. The delivery of these forms is called “service.” This must be done by the Sheriff's Department. You cannot do it yourself.Sheriff's fees are $60.00 for service of one respondent in Cook County.If the disabled person can come with you to the Sheriff's office, and has identification, they can be served at the Sheriff customer service window. This is called "window service." There will be a $23.00 fee.If you are petitioning for a disabled adult who is just about to reach 18 years of age, filing must be done after their 18th birthday.Send Notice of the Hearing to the Respondent's Relatives You must do this at least 14 days before the hearing date.Mail the Petition and the Notice of Motion with the court date, time, and location, to all the people (called "parties") listed on Exhibit A. This should include any spouse, adult child, or sibling (brother or sister) of the disabled person. The Notice of Motion tells all parties that they can come to the hearing. If the disabled person does not have any of these relatives, or if the relatives cannot be found, notice must then be given to any next of kin that you can find.Keep a copy of each Notice of Motion and fill out the "Proof of Service by Delivery" or "Proof of Service by Mail" section. Bring two copies of these forms to the hearing to prove you gave notice to all parties. Prepare Your Forms You can get all of the forms that you will need in the "Forms/Letters" section of this guide. You will need:Probate Division Cover Sheet - Staple this to the front of the original Petition;Petition for Appointment of Guardian for Disabled Person - You will need the original and 5 copies;Exhibit A - You will need the original and 5 copies.You will need the original and 3 copies of this form:Summons for the Appointment of Guardian for Disabled Person with Notice of Rights of Respondent; Notice of Motion to the Respondent's Relatives - Notice of Motion and a copy of the Petition must be sent to everyone who is listed on Exhibit A;Order Appointing Plenary Guardian of Disabled Person – Should be filed prior to your court date;Order Appointing Limited Guardian of Disabled Person – Should be filed prior to your court date.You will need the originals and 1 copy of these forms:Oath and Bond of Representative;CCP-211 Doctor's Report;Order Appointing Guardian Ad Litem of Disabled Person - Bring a blank Order to your court date.File Your Case in Court Guardianship for a disabled adult can only be done in the Probate Division in Chicago at the Daley Center. Even if you live in the suburbs, you will have to go downtown eventually to get guardianship of a disabled adult. Take your completed forms and copies to the Probate Court Clerk in Room 1202 of the Richard J. Daley Center at Dearborn and Washington.You will have to pay a filing fee of about $137 or $162 and there might be other fees related to the case. If you cannot afford to pay the fee, you may qualify to have your filing fees waived. Go to "Related Articles" for information about how to waive your court costs.Be sure to ask which "Disabled Calendar" the case has been assigned to. This will include the name of the Judge who is hearing the case and the room number where the hearing will take place.Get a Court Date Go to the courtroom of the judge to whom the case has been assigned. Tell the clerk you need to get a date for a guardianship hearing. You must write the address, courtroom number, time, and date of the hearing on every copy of the Summons, Notice of Rights, Petition, and Notice of Motion.Issue the Summons Go to the Probate Court Clerk, in Room 1202, to have the Summons issued. The clerk behind the "Forms" desk will be able to help you.Arrange for Service of Respondent You must serve the respondent with notice of the hearing at least 14 days before the hearing date. This means you should place your Summons with the Sheriff's office immediately to make sure the respondent is served on time. Go to the Sheriff's office on the 7th Floor. You must make sure that the disabled person gets the Petition, Notice of the Hearing and Notice of Rights. The delivery of these forms is called “service.” This must be done by the Sheriff's Department. You cannot do it yourself.Sheriff's fees are $60.00 for service of one respondent in in Cook County.If the disabled person can come with you to the Sheriff's office, and has identification, they can be served at the Sheriff customer service window. This is called "window service." There will be a $23.00 fee.If you are petitioning for a disabled adult who is just about to reach 18 years of age, filing must be done after their 18th birthday.Send Notice of the Hearing to the Respondent's Relatives You must do this at least 14 days before the hearing date.Mail the Petition and the Notice of Motion with the court date, time, and location, to all the people (called "parties") listed on Exhibit A. This should include any spouse, adult child, or sibling (brother or sister) of the disabled person. The Notice of Motion tells all parties that they can come to the hearing. If the disabled person does not have any of these relatives, or if the relatives cannot be found, notice must then be given to any next of kin that you can find.Keep a copy of each Notice of Motion and fill out the "Proof of Service by Delivery" or "Proof of Service by Mail" section. Bring two copies of these forms to the hearing to prove you gave notice to all parties. Prepare Your Forms You can get all of the forms that you will need in the "Forms/Letters" section of this guide. You will need:Probate Division Cover Sheet - Staple this to the front of the original Petition;Petition for Appointment of Guardian for Disabled Person - You will need the original and 5 copies;Exhibit A - You will need the original and 5 copies.You will need the original and 3 copies of these forms:Summons for the Appointment of Guardian for Disabled Person with Notice of Rights of Respondent;Notice of Motion to the Respondent's Relatives - A Notice of Motion and a copy of the Petition must be sent to everyone who is listed on Exhibit A;Order Appointing Plenary Guardian of Disabled Person – Should be filed prior to your court date;Order Appointing Limited Guardian of Disabled Person – Should be filed prior to your court date.You will need the originals and 1 copy of these forms:Oath and Bond of Representative;CCP-211 Doctor's Report;Order Appointing Guardian Ad Litem of Disabled Person - Bring a blank Order to your court date.File Your Case in Court Guardianship for a disabled adult can only be done in the Probate Division in Chicago at the Daley Center. Even if you live in the suburbs, you will have to go downtown eventually to get guardianship of a disabled adult. Take your completed forms and copies to the Probate Court Clerk in Room 1202 of the Richard J. Daley Center at Dearborn and Washington.You will have to pay a filing fee of about $137 or $162 and there might be other fees related to the case. If you cannot afford to pay the fee, you may qualify to have your filing fees waived. Go to "Related Articles" for information about how to waive your court costs.Be sure to ask which "Disabled Calendar" the case has been assigned to. This will include the name of the judge who is hearing the case and the room number where the hearing will take place.Get a Court Date Go to the courtroom of the judge to whom the case has been assigned. Tell the clerk you need to get a date for a guardianship hearing. You must write the address, courtroom number, time, and date of the hearing on every copy of the Summons, Notice of Rights, Petition, and Notice of Motion.Issue the Summons Go to the Probate Court Clerk, in Room 1202, to have the Summons issued. The clerk behind the "Forms" desk will be able to help you.Arrange for Service of Respondent You must serve the respondent with notice of the hearing at least 14 days before the hearing date. This means you should place your Summons with the Sheriff's office immediately to make sure the respondent is served on time. Go to the Sheriff's office on the 7th Floor. You must make sure that the disabled person gets the Petition, Notice of the Hearing and Notice of Rights. The delivery of these forms is called “service.” This must be done by the Sheriff's Department. You cannot do it yourself.Sheriff's fees are $60.00 for service of one respondent in Cook County.If the disabled person can come with you to the Sheriff's office, and has identification, they can be served at the Sheriff customer service window. This is called "window service." There will be a $23.00 fee.If you are petitioning for a disabled adult who is just about to reach 18 years of age, filing must be done after their 18th birthday.Send Notice of the Hearing to the Respondent's Relatives You must do this at least 14 days before the hearing date.Mail the Petition and the Notice of Motion with the court date, time, and location to all the people (called "parties") listed on Exhibit A. This should include any spouse, adult child, or sibling (brother or sister) of the disabled person. The Notice of Motion tells all parties that they can come to the hearing. If the disabled person does not have any of these relatives, or if the relatives cannot be found, notice must then be given to any next of kin that you can find.Keep a copy of each Notice of Motion and fill out the "Proof of Service by Delivery" or "Proof of Service by Mail" section. Bring two copies of these forms to the hearing to prove you gave notice to all parties.

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