1. Gather information
- An estimate of the total value of the adult's personal assets, including bank accounts and cars
- A list of any real estate the adult owns and the value of the real estate, especially if the property will be sold
- The adult's yearly income, including pensions, social security, disability, rent, and wages
- A list of the adult's closest living relatives, such as parents, siblings, spouse, and children
- A doctor's report that is no more than 3 months old that specifies that a form of guardianship is needed because the person with a disability cannot make personal or financial decisions on their own
2. Fill out guardianship forms
Fill out and sign the forms listed below. Make at least 3 copies of each form:
- Petition for Appointment of Guardian for Disabled Person: Complete this form to help you become the guardian of a disabled adult.
Probate Division Cover Sheet: Use this form when filing your initial petition in court.
Notice of Motion to the Respondent's Relatives: This form lets the adult's relatives know about the guardianship case.
Order Appointing Plenary Guardian of Disabled Person: This is the document the judge will sign if they decide to make you a plenary guardian.
Order Appointing Limited Guardian of Disabled Person: This is the document the judge will sign if they decide to make you a limited guardian.
You need the originals and 1 copy of these forms:
Oath and Bond of Representative (with or without Surety): This is a form that lets a representative promise to act in the best interests of the adult.
Doctor's Report: This form should be no more than 3 months old and should specify that guardianship is needed because the person with a disability can't make decisions on their own.
Order Appointing Guardian Ad Litem for Disabled Person (GAL): Bring a blank original copy to your court date in case the court wants to appoint a GAL.
Order Appointing Plenary Guardian for Disabled Person: Bring a blank original copy to your court date in case the court wants to appoint a Plenary Guardian.
If you do not have money to pay court fees, you should also fill out the below application:
- Application for Waiver of Court Fees: Asks the court to participate in the court case for free if you do not have money to pay the court filing fees.
3. File the forms
Now that you have filled out your forms, take the following actions:
- File the forms with the circuit clerk at the courthouse in the county where the adult lives to start your court case. You may be able to file online. Check your local circuit clerk's website to see if online filing is an option.
- Pay the court filing fee or get a fee waiver. There are fees to file most court forms. The fees depend on what kind of case you have. To find out how much the fees are, contact your local circuit clerk's office. If you don't have the money to pay the fees, file the Application for Waiver of Court Fees you filled out in Step 1. The court will review your Application for Waiver of Court Fees and decide whether you have to pay the court fees.
- The circuit clerk will stamp and keep the original forms. Have the circuit clerk also stamp the extra copies of your forms. Keep at least one copy for your records.
- Ask the circuit clerk for the first court date. The circuit clerk will either give you the court date when you ask or tell you how you will find it out. Make sure the date is at least 14 days away so that you will have time to notify any relatives and get the return receipt back. Be sure to ask which Disability Calendar the case has been assigned to. This will include the name of the judge who is hearing the case and the courtroom number where the hearing will take place.
4. Tell the other parties about your petition for guardianship
After you get a hearing date, take the forms to the sheriff's office to serve the Summons to the disabled person. Notices of the hearing must be sent to all of the adult relatives that were listed on Exhibit A. The Notice must include the court date, time, and location. The Notice of Motion tells all parties that they may appear and participate in the court hearing.
Note: Notice must be given at least 14 days before the hearing date.
5. Go to the hearing
When you go to the initial hearing, you must bring:
- The person with a disability, if possible
- Stamped copies of all of your filed forms, including:
- Your copy of the Petition
- The original and one copy of the Order
- Two copies of the Doctor's Report
- One original and one copy of the Oath and Bond of Representative - No Surety
- One copy of each Notices of Motion sent to each relative
- Proof that the adult received the summons and that notices were sent to those listed on Exhibit A
A court order for the judge to sign if they decide to make you the guardian:
- Order Appointing Plenary Guardian for Disabled Person (blank original)
- Order Appointing Limited Guardian for Disabled Person (blank original)
The adult with a disability 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. If they cannot come, the court may pick someone to attend the hearing and file a report.
If the judge thinks you should be the guardian of the adult with a disability, they will sign the order, which is the official document that makes you the guardian. The order will say what type of guardian you are. You should also receive letters of office in the mail.
6. Report changes to the court
If the court makes you guardian of an adult, you must remember the following:
- If the adult moves, it must be approved by the court;
- You must file a general yearly report;
- You may need to file a yearly accounting report if appointed guardian of the estate;
- If the adult dies, you must tell the court and probate must be opened prior to the Guardianship case being closed; and
- If you can no longer be the guardian, you must tell the court.