Illinois Estate Planning Lawyer Explains Guardianships for Minor Children
When parents of a child are no longer able to care for the child, a guardianship is needed. Unfortunately, so many people are unprepared and do not nominate a guardian for their child, so the court must decide who will act as the guardian for a minor child. At The Law Office of Amy Handler Kasallis, we want you to understand how nominating a guardian via your estate plan is critical if you have minor children. Contact us by filling out the online form or contacting us directly at (773) 370-1856 to schedule a free initial consultation. We want what's best for you and your family, and preparing for the future through a guardianship is critical to that end.
What Constitutes a Minor's Guardianship in Illinois
Minor's Guardianship is legal authority provided to a specific person to make decisions for a minor child when that child's parents are unable to care for the child. This person with legal authority is referred to as the “guardian.” The subject (child) of the guardianship is referred to as the “protected person” or “ward.”
Endowed with legal authority, the guardian is responsible for the wellbeing and care of the child and can make decisions about the child's:
Guardianship may also be needed over the child's estate when the child has inherited assets. The guardian will manage these assets until the child is an adult.
Reasons a Minor's Guardianship Might be Needed in Illinois
Parents almost always have the legal right to make decisions for their children unless parental rights have been terminated. When parents cannot make those decisions, someone must step in to do it. This often happens when both parents have died or when both parents are incapacitated in some way by illness or injury. It can also be a situation where one parent has died or has no parental rights while the other parent is incapacitated.
Who Can Be Appointed a Minor's Guardian in Illinois
Who the guardian is will often depend on whether or not a guardian was designated in a last will and testament.
By naming a legal guardian in a will, a parent can ensure that their child is raised in a way of which they would approve. While this is obviously far less desirable than raising the child on their own, parents can keep the decision from being made by someone like a judge, who does not have a full understanding of their family.
Factors to Consider a Person as a Guardian for Minor children
Choosing who to be a child's legal guardian is not easy. Parents often consider the following factors:
- Their personal relationship with the guardian
- How trustworthy and reliable the guardian is
- The age of the guardian
- Cultural or religious traits that the parent shares with the guardian
- Geographical proximity
- Whether the guardian already has children
Factors that Disqualify a Person as a Guardian for Minor children
Not all people can be guardians. Examples of when a person does not qualify as a guardian include but are not limited to people who:
- Are incompetent (e.g., cannot care for themselves properly)
- Are also a minor
- Have been convicted of a felony (unless the court states otherwise)
Courts will Select a Minor's Guardian in the Absence of a Will
In cases where the child's parent has become incapacitated or has died and there is no will stating who will become the child's legal guardian, a court will select one. It will usually choose a close relative, although other people, like family friends, can ask the court to appoint them, instead.
How Long Does a Minor's Guardianship Last?
Guardianship usually last until the child becomes an adult at the age of 18.
Protect Your Minor Child: Contact a Guardianship Attorney in Illinois Today
If you have minor children, you want to make sure they are protected. Naming a guardian in your will is one way to secure their livelihood and futures in a way that aligns with your family's values and customs. The Law Office of Amy Handler Kasallis will help you identify what components will work best in your estate plan, whether it includes a guardianship as well as other tools, like a trust. Contact us today either online or at (773) 370-1856 to schedule a free initial consultation and learn more.