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Consider Adult Guardianship and Alternatives at Age 18

Should you petition for guardianship on behalf of your child or loved one with special needs?


What is Guardianship?

Becoming your child’s guardian at age 18 allows you to continue to make personal and financial decisions on behalf of your child. If you do not become your child’s legal guardian, you will no longer have the legal authority to make these important decisions. For example, if your child enters a hospital after they turn 18, and medical decisions need to be made, the child’s doctor will ask you to show guardianship papers before treating your child.  The law presumes your child is capable, even if they are not. Obtaining guardianship must be done through filing a petition with your local court.

Who Needs to Petition for Guardianship?

If your child is unable to make informed decisions about their finances and personal care, you should consider petitioning for guardianship of your child. On the other hand, if your child can make decisions and otherwise has capacity, he or she might be able to sign appropriate legal documents that give you authority to make decisions on your child’s behalf. Not all adult children with a disability need a guardian, but many are more likely to need a guardian, such as those:

  • Who cannot make day to day decisions about their personal care

  • Who cannot handle money

  • Who would make bad choices if given the ability to do so

  • Who are overly trusting and can be taken advantage of

  • Who have money or investments in their own name

  • Who cannot understand their medical situation and make appropriate health care decisions


A guardianship can make sure you continue to be in charge of these decisions and your child is protected.

What Should You Expect If You Decide to Petition for Guardianship?

If you would like the assistance of an attorney to determine whether a guardianship petition is appropriate, please all our office at 630-871-8778 or request a call here. Our staff will ask you a few questions about your family and will let you know how our firm works and what to expect. If you would like to schedule an initial meeting with an attorney, Our staff will send you a new client information packet.


The packet includes a Personal Information Worksheet, which will ask for the information we need to assist you in filing a petition for guardianship. Fill out the Worksheet and return it to our office prior to your initial meeting. The initial meeting is a working meeting, and we want you to get as much out of it as possible.

At your initial meeting the attorney, either Kirsten Izatt or Bill Deitch, will gather information about your family and your child. We will make an evaluation as to whether we believe a petition for guardianship is appropriate. If it is, we will discuss the guardianship process and make sure you understand exactly what to expect. You will also find out about costs and legal fees. In most cases, you can expect to know ahead of time how much it will cost to bring a guardianship proceeding. You will receive straightforward instructions about what to do next, and we will be available to answer questions. Our goal is to make the process as easy as possible for you.

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