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Continued Insights into Guardianship

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I started in my last posting with a Q and A with John Wank, President of the Illinois Guardianship Association.  He continues this second with his answers to our questions in this the second in a three-part series.

You are General Counsel and Director of Program with the Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission.

What does the Commission do?

As the largest public guardian in the United States, the Office of State Guardian (OSG) handles personal or financial decisions for more than 5,000 disabled adults.  Nearly all OSG wards are indigent persons, with costs of care paid by public entitlements. Nearly all OSG front-line staff are Registered Certified Guardians (RCG) under the program administered by the Center for Guardianship Certification.

Legal Advocacy Service (LAS), is the statewide public agency that provides court-appointed legal counsel and representation to vulnerable children and adults with mental illness or developmental disabilities in judicial proceedings involving their commitment to, retention in, enforced treatment in, and release from mental health care facilities.

The Human Rights Authority (HRA) ensures rights protections for persons with disabilities by conducting investigations of alleged rights violations committed against persons with disabilities by agencies that serve them.  

How are our laws different?

Illinois has two kinds of public guardians. In addition to the Office of State Guardian, every Illinois county has a county-based public guardian’s office.  The county guardians serve in cases where the ward has more than $25,000 in assets.  The Office of the Cook County Public Guardian is especially notable in advocating for its wards. See their website:  Public Guardianship.

What challenges would out of state children of an older parent in Illinois for whom they seek a guardian face?

Guardianship is instituted by the filing of a petition in which the petitioner requests the appointment of a named party as guardian. Section 11a-8. If the suggested guardian is an out of state child, the court may wish to know how the child would execute an active and suitable program of guardianship, as described in Section 11a-5(a). Consequently, conducting a guardianship petition and then, serving as guardian, on a long-distance basis, may be complicated. Securing local assistance could be a desirable alternative. 

What is the benefit of a private guardian vs. a professional guardian?

 There are no particular benefits. Most guardianship involves family, with one family member caring for another, often with fees waived. In these cases, a family membership may be desirable, particularly where there is a long-established caring relationship and no suggestion of financial or emotional misconduct on the part of the family member. In cases where the family is unavailable or unwilling to serve, public guardians are available. Private, for-profit guardianship also exists in Illinois. In both public guardianship cases and for-profit guardianship cases, fees are generally paid from the estates of the ward, if there are any.

Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Case Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families throughout metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to Charlotte Bishop.

Copyright ©2011 Charlotte Bishop 

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