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Guardianship Attorney in Edwardsville, Illinois

A guardian is a non-parent who has legal custody of a minor and assumes all the responsibilities that the child’s parents normally would. In other words, guardians are responsible for the child’s medical care, housing and other requirements of daily living, and education – everything a child would need to grow up in a normal, caring environment. This type of caregiving guardian is known as a guardian of the person. 

A guardian of the person can be appointed in a will by a parent who is leaving behind a minor child or children. At other times, parents will consent to having a guardian designated to care for their child due to circumstances that prevent or interfere with their own parenting obligations.  

In some cases, a court may move to appoint a guardian for a minor when the parents have been declared unfit, are deceased or incapacitated, or have given their consent to a guardianship. Children up for adoption can also end up in a guardian relationship. 

Another type of guardian can be appointed when a minor receives a large inheritance or a lawsuit judgment. This guardian will be responsible for managing the child’s financial assets until they reach the age of 18, when they can assume control.  

This person – known as the guardian of the estate – is not usually also the primary guardian of the minor, though it is possible to assume both roles. The fear in combining the roles is that the person may misappropriate the estate to his or her own benefit, citing the costs of caring for the minor. 

If not named in a will or in another enabling document, someone desiring to become a guardian of the person can apply to the court to be so appointed. 

If you are being named or appointed a guardian, or wish to become a guardian, in or around Edwardsville, Illinois, contact Hawkins Law Office, P.C. Our family law attorney can explain the petitioning/appointment process to you and provide you with a complete overview of what will be expected of you in the role of guardian. Our team will help you navigate the entire process to help ensure your understanding of your role and obligations. 

Hawkins Law Office, P.C. also proudly serves clients in Belleville, Carlinville, Jerseyville, Vandalia, Hillsboro and Greenville, Illinois. 

Being a guardian can be a challenging proposition. We're here to help.

Legal Requirements to Be a Guardian 

The qualifications for becoming a guardian are addressed in the Illinois Compiled Statutes. The person must be “capable of providing an active and suitable program of guardianship for the minor,” and also: 

  • Must be 18 years of age or older 

  • Must be a resident of the United States 

  • Must be of sound mind 

  • Must not be adjudged with a disability as defined in the code 

  • Must not have been convicted of a felony “involving harm or threat to a child, including a felony sexual offense” (some other felony restrictions can be waived) 

Types of Guardianships in Illinois 

Not all guardians become full-time surrogates, so to speak, for the parents. Some are available only when needed, and others are contracted by the parent or parents on a short-term basis, meaning for less than a year. Basically, Illinois recognizes three types of guardians: 

THE PLENARY GUARDIAN: This is indeed a full-time position. The guardian can assume the position only when a court approves the relationship from among petitioners or someone designated by the parents. A plenary guardian can be appointed only if any of the following is true: 

  • The parents are deceased. 

  • The parents are unwilling or unable to make daily decisions for the child. 

  • The parents voluntarily leave the child with another adult and never return. 

  • The parents agree to the relationship. 

  • The parents have been detained, arrested, removed, or deported by immigration services. 

Just as there are strict requirements for becoming a plenary guardian, there are also strict grounds for ending that person’s responsibility. All guardianships end when the minor turns 18, but in the case of a plenary guardianship, the relationship can end before that time only if a judge rules that a parent can once again care for the child or in the event that someone else is willing to care for the child. 

THE STANDBY GUARDIAN: A parent or legal guardian can designate a standby guardian who, in a sense, will be waiting in the wings in case the need for a guardian arises. This can be done with a simple document witnessed by two others that names the standby guardian (who must meet all legal requirements). A witness cannot also be the named standby. A last will and testament can also be used to name a standby guardian. 

The standby guardian will lack authority to care for the minor unless one or more of the following happens: 

  • The parent or legal guardian dies. 

  • The parent or legal guardian gives consent. 

  • The parent or legal guardian can no longer carry out day-to-day decision-making and care for the child. 

  • The parent or legal guardian is detained, arrested, removed, or deported because of immigration issues. 

The standby guardian then becomes the full-time guardian for the next 60 days. After that, the standby guardian must apply for renewal of their status or for appointment as the plenary guardian – or find someone else to assume the role. 

THE SHORT-TERM GUARDIAN: Say a single parent is being called to military service for less than a year and cannot bring the child along. The parent can appoint a short-term guardian in writing, witnessed by two others, neither of whom will be the guardian. A short-term guardianship does not need court approval, but it can last no longer than one year. 

The enabling document also must state the starting and ending dates of the agreement and spell out any triggering events that would end the agreement. In this case, if the parent’s term of duty is cut short, the agreement can be ended upon the parent’s return from service, according to agreed-upon stipulations. 

Guardianship Attorney in Edwardsville, Illinois 

Being a guardian can be a challenging proposition. You must assume the responsibilities of the parent while also being answerable to either the parents or the court that appointed you, or both. You need to understand your duties, obligations, and restrictions in advance. 

If you’re about to become a guardian, or you are petitioning the court for an opportunity to be a guardian, contact Hawkins Law Office, P.C. in Edwardsville, Illinois.