Chicago Attorney for Limited Guardian Estate Planning
When you have limited guardianship of a loved one, it can be emotional to think about making an estate plan to distribute their assets upon death. Each situation is unique and how the plan works best depends on many factors. Contact us at (855) 328-5787 to speak with a Chicago limited guardian attorney from Peck Ritchey, LLC. Our compassionate attorneys can help guide you through this delicate matter.
What Is Guardianship?
When a loved one is deemed unable to make or communicate their own decisions concerning their affairs, it may be appropriate to consider appointing a guardian for them. Guardianship refers to the relationship between a person who is appointed guardian for a person who cannot make or communicate responsible decisions for themselves. The person for whom the guardian will make decisions is called a “ward.”
Guardianship is typically based on disabilities of a mental, developmental, or physical nature. However, factors such as physical disability or mental illness alone are insufficient to require a guardian appointment. Instead, a guardian is appointed by a court based on various factors, and the determination of the guardian’s decision-making power is guided by evidence like clinical evaluation and report.
There are two main types of guardianship.
- When the ward requires a guardian, the appointed guardian has the authority to make decisions regarding the ward’s care. In such a situation, the “guardian of the person” will make decisions regarding residential placement, medical treatment, social services, and other needs.
- When the ward’s estate requires a guardian, the appointed guardian has the authority to decide on the ward’s estate or finances. In such a situation, the “guardian of the estate” will make responsible decisions regarding the ward’s funds, income, and other assets.
When the court appoints a guardian, they may appoint them as:
- Solely a guardian of the person
- Solely a guardian of the estate
- A combination of both
Once appointed, a guardian is typically required to provide an annual report regarding the ward’s status and estate, if applicable.
What Is Limited Guardianship?
The extent to which a guardian can make decisions for their ward differs in each situation. When a guardian has the power to make all decisions regarding their area of guardianship, they are referred to as a plenary guardian. Their authority depends on whether they are a guardian of the person, a guardian of the estate, or both.
Limited guardianship is like plenary guardianship. However, in limited guardianship, the guardian has the power to make only certain decisions regarding their area of guardianship. The court specifies these. This arrangement is typically used when the ward does not require extensive supervision. Such a situation allows the ward a greater sense of freedom because they retain more legal rights.
As a result, limited guardianship is a preferable option in cases where the court deems it applicable. This is because plenary guardianship can seem highly invasive because the ward effectively loses their decision-making ability.
The court process to appoint a limited guardian requires a determination about:
- The need for a limited guardian, based on the person’s disability
- The suitability of the person who would be appointed to function as the limited guardian
- The exact nature of the decisions that need to be made on the ward’s behalf and the affairs that the limited guardian will handle
The resulting court order will spell out the details of the appointed limited guardian’s authority.
Limited Guardianship Estate Planning
When a person is a limited guardian, they may have the authority to plan their ward’s estate. This depends on whether they are a limited guardian of the estate. Illinois Law allows the guardian of the estate to create an estate plan on the ward’s behalf.
The limited guardian must obtain court approval to create a will or trust for the ward. The guardian must also create the estate plan in the way they understand the ward would have desired if they had the capacity to make their estate plan on their own.
When the court considers whether to approve the estate plan created by the limited guardian for the ward, they will evaluate factors such as:
- Whether the ward’s current and future needs are considered and accommodated
- Whether the ward’s children, grandchildren, and any other close relatives are provided for in the estate plan
- Whether there are any heirs from whom the ward is estranged since they may otherwise inherit if there was not an estate plan
- Whether the estate plan minimizes income taxes and estate taxes
- Whether the estate plan includes gifts that the ward would likely have desired, including those to friends, family, or charity organizations
- Whether the estate plan generally follows the ward’s wishes, based on the understanding obtained from conversations with the ward
The court may also consider whether the estate plan aligns with any prior estate planning documents. They may examine the beneficiaries listed on retirement accounts and life insurance policies, as well.
Why Should I Choose Peck Ritchey, LLC?
Estate planning for a ward when you have limited guardianship can be delicate. It’s important to choose a lawyer you can trust. Peck Ritchey, LLC is committed to earning the trust of each client. We proudly share the testimonials of our prior clients to demonstrate that they were able to trust us with their sensitive matters.
It’s also critical to select a legal team with a depth of experience and resources. Our boutique law firm’s attorneys have more than 100 years of combined experience. We have encountered many unique types of situations during our decades of practicing estate planning and probate law. This means that we can advise you regarding nearly any type of estate planning matter based on our first-hand experience.
Contact Peck Ritchey, LLC Today
If you are planning the estate of a loved one for whom you have limited guardianship, you need to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney. They can help you understand the implications of Illinois laws and how they will affect your situation.