Petition for Guardianship of the Estate of a Minor in Illinois

By Ronna L. DeLoe, Esq.

Petition for Guardianship of the Estate of a Minor in Illinois

By Ronna L. DeLoe, Esq.

In certain circumstances, a minor, who is a person under the age of 18 in Illinois, may need someone to take charge of their financial affairs. A "guardian of the person" is someone the court appoints, or who is selected in a will, to legally raise a child and make decisions that affect that child. A "guardian of the child's estate" is someone appointed by the court solely for the purpose of managing the child's, or ward's, finances. One person can serve under both.

Father and daughter sitting on a stoop drinking from cups

As of 2018 in Illinois, a ward needs someone to take responsibility for their finances if they have received or will receive $10,000 or more from a gift, a case settlement, an inheritance, or from some other source.

Basic Requirements

To become a guardian of the estate in Illinois pursuant to the Illinois Probate Act (755 ILCS 5/11-1 - 755 ILCS 5/11-5), the petitioner must satisfy the following requirements by being:

  • At least 18 years of age
  • A United States resident
  • Competent and not have a legal disability
  • Someone who doesn't have a felony conviction, unless the conviction isn't for an act against a child

If the child is at least 14 years old, they can nominate someone they want as guardian of their estate. It's up to the court whether it will accept the person the child has nominated. If the court doesn't agree with the nomination, the court will appoint someone else.

Other Requirements

Not just anyone can act as a guardian of the estate. A parent can be one, but not necessarily if the child has another living parent or adoptive parent whose parental rights haven't been terminated. Under certain circumstances, a nonparent can petition for guardianship. These circumstances include any of the following, where both parents:

  • Give up physical custody of the child and both parents cannot take care of the child on a daily basis
  • Fail to appear for a hearing after being properly served and both parents cannot take care of the child on a daily basis
  • Agree to the responsibilities in court or provide a signed, dated, and notarized written agreement

If the child does not have parents, the court may look to other living relatives, such as adult siblings, grandparents, or aunts and uncles, in that order. A relative doesn't necessarily have preference over a nonrelative. The court will base its decision on what's in the child's best interests.

Procedure for Filing

A person filing for guardianship in Illinois files a petition in the county where the child lives. Each county has different petition forms and different rules, so follow the rules in the county where you are petitioning. There are several forms you have to submit, which are available from the clerk of the Circuit Court. You'll have to pay some fees, which are usually listed in the Guardianship Information Packet, and the amount may vary in each county.

Once you file the petition, the clerk will give you a date for the first hearing. You'll need to bring the child's birth certificate and parents' death certificates, if there are any, to the hearing. You'll also need to send notice of the hearing to the parent or person who is responsible for the child, with a copy of the petition. Clerks are not attorneys and can't give legal advice, although you can ask what forms you need.

If you're not good with finances you're probably not the right person for guardianship of the estate. If, however, you believe you can do these tasks and want to do them, apply for it. You'll be doing a wonderful thing for the child.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.