As the population of Illinois ages, many of us are facing difficult choices where our parents are becoming less mentally capable of making important decisions in their lives. One of the common ways to handle this situation is to seek guardianship from the courts. If granted this guardianship, you would be able to manage their affairs such as their finances, living arrangements, and medical treatment.
But there are also a number of potential drawbacks to consider. First, these wards (those being cared for) can feel extremely limited and frustrated by this loss of independence and reduced control over their lives. Plus, to protect their interests, you as the guardian will also be closely monitored by the courts. This can add up to a large time commitment, as well as substantial legal fees for both the guardian and the ward. There will be regular reporting requirements as well as public court appearances regarding personal decisions, which can prove embarrassing.
Four Common Alternatives to Consider
To avoid these legal strictures, costs, and expenditures of time, you may want to consider these four less restrictive alternatives:
- Power of Attorney – This option, which is limited to those disabled adults who are still able to comprehend the decisions they make, is more flexible and customizable than adult guardianship. It would let your parents choose their own guardian and restrict the guardian’s authority to specific decisions or areas of decision-making like finances or healthcare. This option is less costly than a full guardianship proceeding and is a popular alternative.
- Limited Guardianship – As opposed to full guardianship, in this alternative, the courts still grant and monitor your powers; but these powers are more restrictive than full guardianship, having control only over the decisions specifically determined by the court.
- Special Needs Trust – In this scenario, a third party controls funds that are held in trust for the ward. This trustee must use these assets only for the functions that have been specified in the terms of the trust. In a special needs trust, the ward is permitted to earn income and accumulate assets, including government benefits.
- Sharing Financial Information and Bank Accounts – If the focus of your interest is overseeing financial decisions, then a shared bank account would permit you to monitor transactions and usage or specify limitations on withdrawals, etc. There are downsides to this process, though, which your attorney can help you evaluate.
Contact a DuPage County Guardianship Lawyer Today
The responsibilities of being a guardian for an adult with disabilities should not be underestimated. Given the many pros and cons of adult guardianship, the wisest course may be to schedule a low-cost introductory consultation of up to 90 minutes with Calabrese Associates, P.C.. Just call 630-393-3111 to meet with one of our skilled Naperville family law attorneys, and put our experience to work for you.