Standby Guardian of a Minor Child under the Illinois Probate Act

If you have children, you have undoubtedly begun to realize how unpredictable life can be. From simple, day-to-day events, to major, sometimes catastrophic occurrences, there is just no way to plan for every possible eventuality. As a measure of security, some parents, however, take a more proactive approach, in consideration that they may not always be able to properly care for their children. This could be as a result of an illness or existing condition of which the parents are aware, or a completely unforeseen situation resulting in death or disability. For some parents, appointing a standby guardianmay provide the peace of mind they need.

Common Cases for Standby Guardianship

As medical technology continues to advance, many patients with potentially life-threatening illnesses or conditions are continuing to live longer, more productive lives, often exceeding their own expectations. However, a large number of such patients, including those with HIV/AIDS, recognize that, at some point, their condition is likely to prevail, leaving them unable to care their children and perform many of the activities of daily living. Thus, it is vital to make contingency arrangements for if and when the time comes that alternative care is needed.

Establishing a Standby Guardian

In Illinois, the appointment of a standby guardian is governed by the Illinois Probate Act, which lays out the criteria for a valid petition. The state requires that both parents, if living, must consent to the appointment of a standby guardian, regardless of their marital or custodial status. The court is permitted to proceed without a parent’s permission if the parent is found unwilling or unable to assume responsibility for the child. The designation must be made in writing, and may be filed prior to or after a triggering event. The court is expected to verify the appropriateness of the appointment before entering the order granting the prospective guardianship.

A triggering event is what activates the duties of the standby guardian, and includes the death, physical debilitation, or mental incapacity of the parent. In addition, the guardianship may be activated by parental consent before a triggering event occurs. The standby guardian must then confirm with the court that he or she has accepted the role and is ready to begin providing for the child or children. While the guardianship may continue after the death of the parent, during the parent’s lifetime, the standby guardian is expected to cooperate with him or her, based upon the parent’s level of incapacitation.

If you have questions about appointing a standby guarding in accordance with the laws in Illinois, contact an experienced probate litigation attorney in Orland Park. Our team has helped many families find the security they need and we are equipped to find the solution that works best for you. Call 708-518-8200 to schedule your free consultation today.