From KDD – 20 great cases on standards for Guardianship
Sodini and In Re Tiffany are posted elsewhere
1. Matter of Mackey’s Estate
Appellate Court of Illinois, Third District. June 18, 1980 85 Ill.App.3d 235
Eighty-six-year-old woman appealed judgment entered in the Circuit Court, LaSalle County, James L. Waring, J. P., in incompetency proceeding appointing guardians for her person and her estate. The Appellate Court, Alloy, P. J., held that: (1) jury’s verdict that 86-year-old woman was in need of guardian over her estate was not against manifest weight of evidence; (2) new Probate Act governed incompetency proceedings; (3) failure to inquire into possibility of limited guardianship, to enter written finding setting forth factual basis for appointment of guardians, failure to set forth duration of guardianship and to inquire as to incompetent’s own preference of guardians did not require reversal; (4) erroneous issues instructions did not constitute reversible error; (5) erroneous jury verdict form did not require reversal. Affirmed.
…On the basis of these findings, the court appointed Roy Mackey as guardian of the person of Nellie Mackey and the Union National Bank of Streator as guardian over her estate….
…(e) The court shall give due consideration to the preference of the disabled person as to a guardian in its appointment….
2. Estate of Barr
Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, First Division. March 31, 1986 142 Ill.App.3d 428
Sister of 44-year-old man brought action to have him adjudicated disabled and for appointment as plenary guardian of his person and estate. The Circuit Court, Cook County, Richard E. Dowdle, J., entered the order, and the man appealed. The Appellate Court, Campbell, J., held that: (1) evidence did not support appointment of plenary guardian over the man’s person and estate, but (2) appointment of limited guardian over his estate was warranted. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded with instructions.
… On January 17, 1983, petitioner, Linda Horwitz, filed a petition pursuant to the Act to have respondent adjudged a disabled person due to mental illness and to be appointed guardian over his person and estate….
… However, we do not find that the evidence supports the trial court’s appointment of plenary guardian over respondent’s person and estate….
3. In re Estate of Silverman
Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, Second Division. December 21, 1993 257 Ill.App.3d 162
Guardians. Treating physician’s report was sufficient to justify dismissal of petition for appointment of guardian.
… The guardian may be appointed for the person or the estate, or for both the person and the estate, depending upon the circumstances….
…On October 2, petitioner filed a petition for the appointment of a temporary guardian over respondent’s person and estate, claiming that this was necessary because a hearing was scheduled in three days to consider a petition to probate respondent’s late wife’s will….
4. In re Estate of Hickman
Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District. January 31, 1991 208 Ill.App.3d 265
Petition was filed for appointment of personal guardian for 80-year-old woman who had been diagnosed as suffering from early stage of Alzheimer’s disease. The Circuit Court, Vermilion County, Thomas J. Fahey, J., entered order denying petition, and petitioners appealed. The Appellate Court, Lund, P.J., held that personal guardian should have been appointed based on evidence that, due to her progressive memory failure, respondent was totally incapable of making personal and financial decisions. Affirmed in part; reversed in part and remanded.
… The court entered an order appointing petitioners temporary guardians of respondent’s person and estate….
…Perhaps the most convincing evidence indicating respondent’s need for a personal guardian comes from the physicians who have examined her….
5. In re Estate of Johnson
Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, Second Division. March 02, 1999 303 Ill.App.3d 696
FAMILY LAW – Guardians. Appointment of aunt rather than father as guardian of disabled person was within court’s discretion.
…In Bania, the trial court appointed separate individuals to act as the guardian of person and guardian of the estate….
…Here, as in Bania, the trial court made separate appointments for guardian of the disabled person and guardian of the estate of the disabled person….
6. In re Guardianship of Austin
Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District. June 10, 1993 245 Ill.App.3d 1042
Guardian and Ward. Circuit court was within its discretion in limiting authority of guardian to consent to administration of psychotropic medications to wards.
…Office of State Guardian (OSG) petitioned for appointment of limited guardians of person and plenary guardian of estate respecting 14 allegedly disabled persons….
… In contesting its appointment as guardian of the estates, OSG cites several cases in which proof of the incompetency of a person for whom guardianship was sought was at issue on appeal….
7. In re Malloy’s Estate
Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division. May 22, 1981 96 Ill.App.3d 1020
Petition was brought for the appointment of a guardian of the estate and person of a 78-year-old woman. The Circuit Court, Cook County, Walter P. Dahl, J., entered orders finding the woman to be a disabled person and appointing plenary guardians, and she appealed. The Appellate Court, Mejda, J., held that: (1) notice of appeal, which incorrectly stated dates of orders but which sufficiently articulated substance of orders so that appellee was informed of nature of relief sought, was not fatally defective; (2) under rule requiring filing of notice of appeal within 30 days of entry of final judgment, notice of appeal was timely where filing occurred 32 days after court’s written order and the two days immediately preceding filing were a Sunday and a holiday; (3) although petition for appointment of guardian did not contain report on disability as required by statute, court had jurisdiction over alleged disabled person where summons was properly served upon her; (4) where alleged…
…The court then appointed a temporary guardian of appellant’s estate….
…Petition was brought for the appointment of a guardian of the estate and person of a 78-year-old woman….
8. In re Estate of Bennett
Appellate Court of Illinois, Second District. March 19, 1984 122 Ill.App.3d 756
Wife petitioned for appointment of plenary guardian over her disabled husband, asking that she be appointed guardian. The husband’s mother and sister cross-petitioned, requesting that one or both of them be appointed as limited guardians. The Circuit Court, Kane County, John A. Krause, J., found the husband to be a disabled person in need of a limited guardian, and appointed his mother and sister as limited coguardians, and wife appealed. The Appellate Court, Unverzagt, J., held that: (1) trial court properly exercised its discretion in selecting mother and sister as limited coguardians after giving due consideration to husband’s preference; (2) appointment of a limited guardian, rather than a plenary guardian, was not against the manifest weight of the evidence; (3) appointment of disabled husband’s mother and sister as coguardians did not constitute an abuse of discretion; and (4) trial court’s order finding husband, who suffered a…
… The petitioner asked that she be appointed plenary guardian for Harold’s person and his estate….
…The petitioner has presented three issues for review: (1) whether the trial court failed to exercise its discretion in selecting a guardian for the respondent; (2) whether the finding that a limited guardian was needed was against the manifest weight of the evidence and whether the appointment of the cross-petitioners as guardians was an abuse of discretion; and (3) whether the order establishing the limited guardianship was vague….
9. Galvin’s Estate v. Galvin
Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, First Division. February 07, 1983 112 Ill.App.3d 677
Appeal was taken from the Circuit Court, Cook County, Walter Dahl, J., which denied petition for appointment of guardian of estate and person of respondent. The Appellate Court, Goldberg, J., held that: (1) trial court’s finding that respondent was not incompetent was not manifestly against the weight of the evidence, and (2) trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing petitioner’s offer to call cousin of respondent for examination. Affirmed.
…A trial court is mandated to adjudicate a person incompetent and appoint a guardian only when the alleged incompetent is “not fully able to manage his person or estate ***….
…Because trial court observes the witnesses its finding on question whether person is incompetent requiring appointment of guardian will not be disturbed unless holding is manifestly against the weight of the evidence….
10. In re Estate of Johnson
Appellate Court of Illinois, Fifth District. October 01, 1991 219 Ill.App.3d 962
Appeal was taken from order of the Circuit Court, Madison County, Ellar Duff, J., which appointed state guardian as limited guardian and awarded some attorney fees. The Appellate Court, Goldenhersh, J., held that: (1) evidence supported appointment of state guardian, and (2) persons who brought the petition were entitled to attorney fees. Affirmed as modified.
… However, petitioners were at least somewhat successful in that the trial court determined respondent did need some assistance in managing his affairs and, therefore, appointed the Bank of Edwardsville as guardian of respondent’s estate and also appointed the State Guardian as limited guardian over respondent’s person….
…” It also appointed Patricia Penelton as guardian of the person of respondent, but reserved the issue of who should be appointed guardian of the estate, and ordered a complete psychological evaluation of respondent….
11. Matter of Langford’s Estate
Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District. June 27, 1977 50 Ill.App.3d 623
In proceeding on a petition for appointment of conservator, the Circuit Court, Macon County, Frank Gollings, J., denied relief and petitioner appealed. The Appellate Court, Hunt, J., held that evidence, including medical testimony that person had had or still had schizophrenia and that person expressed intention to liquidate his entire estate and give it all to religious organization, without desire or plan to support himself except through his ministry, established that he was incapable of managing his estate and that conservator should have been appointed. Reversed and remanded with directions.
…After hearing evidence, the court appointed William R. Mattson as temporary conservator of the person, and the Central National Bank of Mattoon as temporary conservator of the estate….
…This is an appeal from an order of the circuit court of Macon County denying a petition of Walter E. Billerman, petitioner-appellant, for the appointment of a conservator over the person and the estate of James Langford, an alleged incompetent, respondent-appellee….
12. Matter of McPeak’s Estate
Appellate Court of Illinois, Fifth District. September 23, 1977 53 Ill.App.3d 133
Son filed petition for appointment of conservator for his 81-year-old mother, respondent, alleging that she was incompetent and incapable of managing her person and estate because of old age and deterioration of mentality. Following a bench trial, the Circuit Court, Hamilton County, Harry L. Zeigler, P. J., entered order granting petition, and respondent appealed. The Appellate Court, Eberspacher, J., held that: (1) to simply establish certain disabilities was alone insufficient to support determination of incompetency; (2) evidence also had to show respondent’s incapability of managing her person or estate, but record was barren of any such evidence; (3) in that regard, unsubstantiated opinions of petitioner’s witnesses that respondent was not capable of taking care of herself or her affairs, without any reasons given for such conclusions, would not support adjudication of incompetency and (4) fact that respondent had not personally appeared in courtroom on day of…
…Son filed petition for appointment of conservator for his 81-year-old mother, respondent, alleging that she was incompetent and incapable of managing her person and estate because of old age and deterioration of mentality….
…To simply establish certain disabilities is alone insufficient to support determination of incompetency, for purposes of appointing conservator; evidence must also show alleged incompetent’s incapability of managing her person or estate. S.H.A. ch. 3, §§ 11-2, 11-4….
13. In re Schmidt
Appellate Court of Illinois, Second District. September 01, 1998 298 Ill.App.3d 682
HEALTH – Mental Health. Trial court did not abuse its discretion in appointing disabled woman’s husband as her guardian, over expressed wishes of other family members for appointment of woman’s sister.
…In appointing Tom as Cindy’s guardian, the court noted that the issue then before it was the appointment of a suitable person as guardian….
…Brother of accident victim filed petition to be appointed guardian of her person, alleging that victim was disabled adult….
14. In re Estate of Doyle
Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District. November 10, 2005 362 Ill.App.3d 293
FAMILY LAW – Guardians. Statute requiring hearings to be held within 30 days of filing petition for guardianship was directory, not mandatory.
…A court may appoint a guardian of an estate when it finds that the ward is incapable of managing her estate and it is in the best interests of the ward that the petitioner be appointed….
… The decision of a competent principal to appoint an agent cannot be overcome by simply appointing a guardian of the person’s estate….
15. Matter of Conservatorship of Browne
Appellate Court of Illinois, Third District. February 24, 1976 35 Ill.App.3d 962
Petition was filed to remove respondent from his position as conservator of an elderly individual’s estate. The Circuit Court, Rock Island County, Robert M. Bell, J., denied petition, and petitioner appealed. The Appellate Court, Stouder, J., held that neither conclusion of an attorney that elderly individual was incapable of handling her business affairs nor unsubstantiated statements of two doctors to effect that it was in best interest of individual to have a conservator appointed was sufficient to establish that individual was so incompetent as to require the appointment of a conservator for her estate. Reversed and remanded with directions.
…Evidence was also presented that at the January 30 hearing on the petition for appointment of conservator no medical testimony was given and no guardian ad litem was appointed….
…The Appellate Court, Stouder, J., held that neither conclusion of an attorney that elderly individual was incapable of handling her business affairs nor unsubstantiated statements of two doctors to effect that it was in best interest of individual to have a conservator appointed was sufficient to establish that individual was so incompetent as to require the appointment of a conservator for her estate….
16. Williams v. Estate of Cole
Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, Fourth Division. August 13, 2009 393 Ill.App.3d 771
Evidence was insufficient to establish that mother was a disabled person, in action to adjudicate mother incompetent.
… Petitioner asked the court to appoint Harris, N.A. as plenary guardian of Ms. Cole’s estate, and to appoint petitioner as guardian of Ms. Cole’s person….
…Evidence was insufficient to establish that mother was a disabled person, in action to adjudicate mother incompetent and appoint a guardian; two physicians, both who had recently examined mother, found that she exhibited no cognitive disabilities or mental conditions, and that she was well-adjusted and capable of managing her own personal and financial decisions. S.H.A. 735 ILCS 5/2–619(a)(9); 755 ILCS 5/11a–2, 5/11a–3(a)….
20. In re Estate of Ohlman
Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, Second Division. February 22, 1994 259 Ill.App.3d 120
Mental Health. Guardian ad litem should have been appointed for mentally disabled person who requested to proceed without counsel.
… The Probate Act of 1975, which governs proceedings for appointment of guardians, defines a disabled person as a person who “is mentally ill *** and who because of his mental illness *** is not fully able to manage his person or estate.” …
…Office of State Guardian petitioned for appointment of guardian for mentally disabled patient….
I have heard more than one person seem to get confused over the standards for appointment of a guardian. First of all, there has to be a medical diagnosis. Hence, the need for a CCP 211 petition where an MD must state what the mental disease or defect is. For the elderly, it is often dementia. For younger people, it can be Down’s Syndrome, multiple chromosomal deficiencies, etc.
It is my belief you cannot appoint a guardian for someone without a mental disease or defect. And I’m not too sure that the borderline psychological diagnoses such as hoarding, phobias, fears, etc. are enough.
If you look at the Probate Act, there should be a diagnosis AND a determination that the person is incapable of handling her or his own affairs by clear and convincing evidence. The recent In re Tiffany case tightens the legal standard of “clear and convincing” to “no reasonable doubt.”
This does not mean the person has made some bad decisions. Most people from day to day make at least a few bad decisions. Nor is the standard “utterly incapable” of managing one’s own affairs of the person or financial estate.
But it starts with a diagnosis of a mental disease or defect. If you have that, then you inquire further.
A good website I recently found on all of this is at the Illinois Public Guardian’s offices at:
both of these pages have quite a bit of good information for guardians.