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.
- Exhibit A to Appointment of Guardian for Disabled Adult: Use this form if you need to notify any of the adult's relatives that you are petitioning for guardianship.
- Probate Division Cover Sheet: Use this form when filing your initial petition in court.
- Summons for the Appointment of Guardian for Disabled Person with Notice of Rights of Respondent: These forms let the adult know that you are filing a guardianship case.
- 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, you need to file them with the clerk. The method you are required to use depends on the county where you are filing.
- E-filing: Some counties require you to file your forms and documents electronically. See E-Filing Basics for more information.
- Paper filing: If you can paper file or have an E-filing Exemption Certificate, take your completed forms to the circuit court clerk's office in the courthouse. See courthouse locations.
There is a fee to file most forms. The cost depends on the type of case you have and the county where you are filing. Contact your local circuit clerk's office for information on the fees.
If you do not have money to pay court fees, use the Application for Waiver of Court Fees program.
When you file your forms with the clerk they become part of the case. The clerk will stamp your forms. This stamp is important because it's proof that you filed the form with the court.
- E-filing: The documents you want to file with the court have to be uploaded into the system. You will need to create an account. See E-filing Basics for details.
- Paper filing: If you are paper filing bring the forms to the clerk at the courthouse in the county where you are filing. Bring all your copies and the originals with you when you file. Ask the clerk to stamp all your forms. They will keep the original. Keep at least one copy for your records. See courthouse locations.
How you will find out about the court date (or hearing date) and time depends on how you filed your case.
- E-filing: The website you used to electronically file may let you pick your court date (or hearing date) and time. If it does not, contact the clerk.
- Paper filing: If you filed in person at the courthouse, the clerk will let you pick or they may pick for you.
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. Ask which Disability Calendar the case has been assigned to, which includes the name of the judge hearing the case and the courtroom number where the hearing will take place.
4. Tell the other parties about your petition
After you get a hearing date, take the forms to the sheriff's office to serve the Summons for Appointment of Guardian for a Disabled Person. Notices of the hearing must include the court date, time, and location. The Notice of Motion must be sent to all of the adult relatives that were listed on Exhibit A to tell all parties that they may appear and participate in the court hearing.
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.
Note: Effective January 1, 2018, the court may allow you to attend the hearing by video conference as long as everyone involved agrees. You can testify by video from anywhere as long as the court aproves it.
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.