Is Adult Guardianship an Option for Your Child?

adult guardianship

As a parent, ensuring the well-being of your child is a lifelong commitment. For some parents, this includes making decisions about adult guardianship when their child reaches the age of 18. In Illinois, there are specific laws and guidelines that can help you navigate this important decision. This blog will help provide you with basic information about adult guardianship, including alternatives that may be suitable for your family.

What is Adult Guardianship?

Adult guardianship is a legal process where a court appoints a guardian to make decisions on behalf of an adult who is unable to make decisions for themselves due to disability or incapacity. This can include decisions about healthcare, finances, and daily living. In Illinois, the process involves filing a petition in court, providing evidence of the adult’s incapacity, and attending a court hearing.

When is Adult Guardianship Appropriate?

Adult guardianship may be necessary if your child has significant cognitive, developmental or physical disabilities that impair their ability to make informed decisions. It is important to consult with professionals who can help assess your child’s needs and determine if guardianship is the best option.

Alternatives to Adult Guardianship

Before pursuing adult guardianship, it’s important to explore other options that may provide the support your child needs while allowing them to maintain as much independence as possible. Guardianship can be a restrictive measure, and in some cases, less invasive alternatives can offer a better balance of oversight and autonomy. These alternatives can empower your child to make decisions with the appropriate guidance and support. Here are some alternatives to consider:

  1. Power of Attorney (POA): This legal document allows an individual to appoint someone to make decisions on their behalf. There are two main types:
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare: Allows the appointed person to make medical decisions.
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Property: Allows the appointed person to manage financial matters.

A POA is a flexible option that can be tailored to the specific needs of your child.

Special Needs Trust: This trust can be established to manage and protect funds available to a person with disabilities. It ensures that the person’s needs are met without jeopardizing their eligibility for government benefits. A trustee is appointed to oversee the trust and make financial decisions.

Limited Guardianship: If full guardianship seems too restrictive, Illinois law allows for limited guardianship. This arrangement grants the guardian authority over specific areas, such as healthcare or financial decisions, while allowing the individual to retain some independence.

Sharing of Bank Account and Financial Information: For parents who want to help manage their child’s finances without formal guardianship, joint bank accounts or financial monitoring tools can be helpful. This allows parents to oversee and assist with financial matters while the adult child maintains some level of control.

Important Considerations

While these alternatives provide more flexibility, they may not be suitable for all situations. It is crucial to evaluate your child’s unique needs and circumstances. Consulting with legal and medical professionals can help you make an informed decision.

The Legal Process in Illinois

If you decide that adult guardianship is necessary, here is an overview of the process in Illinois:

  1. Filing a Petition: The process begins by filing a petition for guardianship in the probate court of the county where your child resides.
  2. Evaluation: A clinical evaluation by a qualified professional is often required to provide evidence of the adult’s incapacity.
  3. Court Hearing: A hearing will be scheduled where the court will review the evidence and hear testimonies. The court will then decide whether to appoint a guardian for a ward.

Deciding whether adult guardianship is the right choice for your child is a complex and personal decision. Exploring alternatives such as power of attorney, special needs trusts, and limited guardianship can provide you with options that may better suit your family’s needs. Always consult with professionals to ensure you are making the best decision for your child’s future. For more information and guidance on this topic, please contact Sterk Family Law.


This is a legal advertisement from Sterk Family Law Group. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. This article is for informational and educational purposes only.

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