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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Happy Ending with Red Tape

Meg has been managing Wes’s money as his guardian since his mountain climbing accident left him unable to do it himself.  But after extensive therapy, Wes seems to be recovered now, and they both want him to control of his own life and finances again.

Meg can turn control over to him with his help by filing a petition to terminate the court’s adjudication of disability and asking that the guardianship be terminated.  Then, they must convince the judge that her father has regained his capabilities and can now resume taking care of himself.  Wes will probably testify; there does not necessarily have to be any doctor’s reports or exam, although that might be helpful too.

Meg will need to do a full and complete accounting of her activities as guardian to the court.  After all, once she’s no longer guardian, her father is going to need to know where all his money and investments are.  And the court needs to make sure that Meg has finished her job responsibly till the very end.

So it’s more paperwork and expense, but at least this time it’s for a happy reason.

For advice about planning your own affairs to make future guardianship less likely even if you end up needing help, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.  There are tools other than guardianship that can help in these situations.  

© 2015 Gruber Law Office


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Meg has been managing Wes’s money as his guardian for three years, ever since his mountain climbing accident left him unable to do it himself. For the past two years, Wes has undergone extensive therapy and has shown small steps of improvement in his condition.

In fact, Meg is beginning to think he is really coming back to be more like the father she knew before the accident.  She knows he’s becoming more responsible and less confused.

She has been working with his doctors and therapists throughout the three years, and they now agree that perhaps it’s now time to turn over some control back to Wes.  

It isn’t so easy as Meg just deciding that and “quitting” as guardian, but the law is designed to allow the ending of guardianships just as soon as it would be in the best interests of the ward to do so.

Of course, the court will insist on supervising the end of the guardianship and will require documentation all around from Meg.  We will discuss some of those requirements next week.

Guardianship is not simple, but is sometimes necessary and is designed to protect the incapacitated person. 

For advice to avoid the need for guardianship or to deal with a situation that might later call for a guardianship, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

© 2015 Gruber Law Office


Thursday, August 13, 2015

'Ghost' Contract

Meg has been managing Wes’s money as his guardian since his mountain climbing accident left him unable to do it himself.  But her dad is still out there, and you wouldn’t necessarily notice at first glance that he is now incompetent.

Recently, Wes went out and signed a contract to purchase a very expensive car.  The salesman filled out all the forms and told Wes where to sign.  Meg stormed over to the dealership to ask why they hadn’t contacted her since talking with Wes for more than several minutes usually reveals serious problems.

Regardless of why the salesman did or did not notice a problem, the contract Wes signed is not binding.  Meg does not have to spend any of Wes’s money to buy the car.

The law says that actions of a ward in a guardianship regarding contracts are void.  That means that any money Wes has deposited must be returned, and the contract is not binding, because the law treats it as if the contract was never signed.  The car dealer simply does not have a ‘ghost of a chance’ to enforce that contract.

For advice dealing with issues related to loved ones with deteriorating self-care skills without resorting to guardianship by preparing realistically for the future before it is a crisis, call us at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

© 2015 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

More Than Financial Duties

Meg has been managing her father’s money since his mountain climbing accident left him unable to do it himself.  But under her order of guardianship for him, Meg does more than mind his finances.  She also makes uniquely personal decisions for him.

She makes all of his medical care decisions, such as whether there should be a Do Not Resuscitate order if he is in the hospital, whether he should change his doctor, whether he should go to Mayo Clinic, whether brain surgery is a good option and myriad other decisions, both daily and rare.

Meg also has access to all his medical records, past and present, and the right to hear his doctor’s advice.  Importantly, Meg also would make any decision about whether Wes should sue the doctor who failed to take action to relieve the pressure on his brain upon his admission to the hospital immediately after his climbing fall.

Complicated decisions can be partly simplified for the person who may later have to speak for you - if you give good guidance through a legal, written plan while you are still able to give some directions in advance.

For help making such advance directions workable, both legally and practically, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

© 2015 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

He Made Me Do It

As Wes’ guardian, Meg has been managing her father’s investments since his mountain climbing accident left him unable to do it for himself.   

She has already discovered that Wes managed his investments very well before his accident.  Now he has been telling her what he thinks she should do with his money. 

Meg has been tempted to listen, because it would help Wes feel more in control again.  But when she checked on two investments he “ordered” her to make, they proved to be worthless. 

Meg does not have to follow Wes’ orders.  In this case, she should not follow them, because if they are irresponsible decisions, she, not Wes, can be held liable by the court. 

After all, in order to be named his guardian, Meg just spent a lot of time and effort to show that Wes no longer had the ability to make such decisions.  It would hardly make sense for the court to allow her to shirk her new responsibility by saying that she was just following Wes’ orders.

In short, the ‘he made me do it’ excuse not only fails to work with most mothers, it also fails to work for the court in a guardianship. 

Estate planning can help give investment direction to certain family members, or even to an investment professional, if the need arises for someone else to handle your finances.  For help planning your own estate, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

© 2015 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Preserve and Protect

After Wes’ mountain climbing accident left him unable to care for himself, his daughter Meg successfully petitioned the court to be named his guardian.  She knew she was needed to take care of his financial matters and make other decisions, too.

As his guardian, her paramount duty as seen by the court is to conserve and protect Wes’ assets, so that the assets and income are applied to Wes’ use, enjoyment and benefit.  She must handle his affairs the same way a good and conscientious business person would handle her own affairs.

The court may hold Meg liable for any mismanagement of Wes’ estate.  Meg earlier purchased a guardian’s bond, actually an insurance policy, to guarantee her good performance of her duties.  But, if she is found to have mismanaged Wes’ estate, she can be held personally liable. 

That means Meg might have to pay back any of Wes’ money she is deemed to have wasted out of her own pocket.  The guardian’s bond will not ‘save’ Meg from paying for any mistakes; it just helps to assure that Illinois, which might through its Medicaid program end up paying his nursing home bills if Wes were penniless, will receive some money to cover those expenses if they are caused by mismanagement mistakes.  This is part of why Illinois, through its probate guardianship laws, wants to be protect Wes and his money by making requirements to minimize the risk that Wes will be left without resources.

Estate planning can help give guidance to any needed future guardian or agent selected by you.  For help planning your estate, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

© 2015 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.



Thursday, July 16, 2015

Careful and Diligent

Wes was an extremely successful businessman before his untimely mountain climbing accident disabled many of his mental abilities.  After his daughter Meg was appointed his guardian by the court, she discovered that he’d been a financial wizard too. 

His records were scattered and disorganized, but he has a lot of money tucked in several stocks, bonds and real estate, along with his regular bank accounts.  Meg realizes that it will be hard to keep up. How can she be sure she is making the best investments and maximum returns?

Plus, Meg knows that the court will scrutinize her periodic guardianship reports.  The court will measure her performance by checking whether she is being as careful and diligent as “a good and conscientious business person” would be about her own affairs under like circumstances.

 She can ask for help from professionals or do it on her own, but she must make her decisions as responsibly as a good and conscientious business person.

Estate planning can help keep things organized to enable any future guardian to ‘hit the ground running’ and make better investment decisions for your situation.  For help planning protection for your family’s future, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

© 2015 Gruber Law Office


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Regular Reports

Meg has been appointed Wes’ guardian after his debilitating rock climbing accident by the court.  Now she has the ability to spend his money subject to guardian responsibilities.  She must provide for Wes’ care, comfort, education and maintenance. 

To ensure that she does that Meg is required to make periodic reports (usually once a year) to the probate court on Wes’ condition and her expenditures to provide care for him.  The court will review the accounting to be sure that her acts and decisions reflect Wes’ best interest.

If the judge is not convinced that a particular decision is in Wes’ best interest, the judge can enter an order preventing Meg from doing it or stopping her from continuing it. If Wes needed a paid live-in companion, for example, Meg would report that to the court and ask that her decision to hire someone be approved. 

In other words, Meg must come to a good decision on hard questions, and should be able to convince a judge that her decision was good and would not threaten or cause harm to Wes.

Estate planning can simplify the life of the caregiver, if the need for a caregiver arises.  For help planning your estate, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

© 2015 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Pay First

Meg has been appointed her father’s guardian after his debilitating rock climbing accident.  Before she is allowed to act as his guardian, however, she must purchase a bond to insure that she will faithfully discharge her guardianship duties.

Illinois law usually requires that every individual guardian purchase a “bond,” which is generally an insurance policy complete with premiums to be paid.

A Guardian’s Bond can be a significant expense for Meg, depending on how much personal property Wes owns, which includes all of his money and property except real estate.  Illinois statutes require that the bond be for 1½ times the total value of the personal property subject to guardianship.

The easiest way to avoid the unnecessary premium expense for a bond for guardian was to have planned ahead.  If Wes had previously made a Power of Attorney or other formal document that designated Meg as his preferred guardian and also waived the necessity of bond for her, then Meg would not have to pay a premium for it now from her father’s assets.

Estate planning can avoid certain expenses even during life when you are still around to be affected by how your money is spent.  For help planning your own estate, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

© 2015 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

The End Is Only The Beginning

Meg has apparently convinced the probate judge that her father, Wes, is incompetent and needs to be taken care of after the injuries of his rock-climbing accident.  Plus, the judge thinks Meg has proved she is the best person to be his guardian.

The judge will now enter an Order declaring that Wes is Meg’s “ward.”  But the order will clearly state the exact scope of Meg’s authority and responsibility to her ward as guardian.

Illinois law requires that a guardian’s authority be limited as much as possible, in order to allow the ward to keep all the authority the judge thinks he is capable of exercising. 

That Order ends the process of being named guardian.  But it is only the beginning of the process of acting as guardian.  Now Meg must learn how to exercise her various guardianship powers in her father’s best interests, not only as determined by her but also as supervised and approved by the probate court.

She has certain bookkeeping and reporting requirements she must meet, going to the probate court for approval regularly. 

Good estate planning can prevent the need for guardianship proceedings in many situations.  For help planning your future and for the future care of your family, please call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

©2015 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Long Flight Up

Meg has begun the probate court procedure to be named Wes’ guardian, because his is unable to take care of himself after his rock climbing accident.  After going through several legal requirements, Meg has finally gotten to “court” with her guardianship problem.

Now, with Wes sitting in the courtroom, Meg must persuade the probate judge to agree that Wes is incompetent and needs a guardian.  Wes must also appear and may be questioned by Meg’s attorney, his own court-appointed attorney, or the judge.  And Meg’s own testimony is subject to cross-examination.

Meg must also prove to the judge is that she, his only child, is the best person to be his guardian.  Moreover, Meg must help the judge define exactly what is the minimum amount of authority she as guardian must be given in order to best meet Wes’ needs.

If the judge agrees with Meg, then he will enter an Order appointing Meg guardian.  That order will clearly state the exact scope of her authority and responsibility as guardian.

Proper planning can prevent the need for guardianship proceedings in many situations.  For estate planning help, please call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.     

©2015 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


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