When a guardian is appointed for a person with a disability (the “ward”), the guardian is required to follow certain guidelines. There are two types of guardianships in Illinois, and they each have different rules to follow.
The first is “guardianship of the person.” The guardian of the person is responsible for securing the support, care, comfort, education, and professional services for the ward. Pursuant to the Illinois Probate Act, the guardian of the person is also expected to assist the ward in the development of maximum self-reliance and independence. Despite the fact that guardians seemingly have a substantial amount of authority, they are not given carte blanche permission to make every decision associated with the ward. A guardian is still expected to listen to the wishes of the ward and make an effort to carry out those wishes. Furthermore, a guardian cannot change the residential placement of the ward without explicit authorization from the court. This prevents a guardian from being able to place a ward in a nursing home without a thorough investigation by the court to determine if that home is in the ward’s best interests.
The second type of guardianship is called the “guardianship of the estate.” The estate guardian is responsible for handling the finances and assets of the ward. He/she is expected to manage the estate frugally and apply the income and principal of the estate so far as necessary for the comfort and suitable support and education of the ward (755 ILCS 5/11a-18). The guardian may make payments directly to the ward, or to a third party to pay for things like rent, food, clothing, entertainment, etc. Once again, this is a significant amount of power, but it is not without its limits. A guardian of the estate can only spend the ward’s assets on things that directly benefit the ward or the ward’s minor or adult dependent children. If the guardian is not following these guidelines, it may be grounds for the guardian to be removed.