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Guardian Ad Litems in Guardianship Proceedings Vida E. Cruz Staff Attorney Illinois Disability Association

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Presentation on theme: "Guardian Ad Litems in Guardianship Proceedings Vida E. Cruz Staff Attorney Illinois Disability Association"— Presentation transcript:

1 Guardian Ad Litems in Guardianship Proceedings Vida E. Cruz Staff Attorney Illinois Disability Association

2 My Background I am not a GAL! Practicing 20 years in probate-- various roles First encounter with the term guardian ad litem ( law school orientation 1987) GAL in juvenile court (Cook County Public Guardian) Attorney-- Adult Guardianship Division (Cook County Public Guardian) Trust officer (US Bank and Chase) Staff attorney-- Pooled Trust since 2004

3 Meeting the ward (or alleged disabled person): Home visits: -investigate living situation/be a detective -interview the ward -record verbal and non-verbal communication -if ward is not verbal: make observations -interview without caregiver or guardian present -interview petitioner, caregiver, family members -assess safety -who is living there (who is footing the bill) *If situation warrants: be prepared to call 911 or abuse hotline

4 Meeting the ward (or alleged disabled person) cont’d: Nursing home/hospital visits: -review medical chart -talk to floor nurse -psych nurse

5 Home Visit Checklist: Appropriate locks/security Smoke detectors Ability to exit in case of an emergency Space heaters a/c Functioning utilities Appropriate wheelchair accessibility walk around outside

6 Home Visit Checklist cont’d: Appropriate dress Hygiene Medications Food bills, mail

7 The Guardian Ask for a written care plan Ask for a budget -for community wards even if there is only Social Security payments, find out how much it is, how it is spent -look out for family members living off the ward

8 Trust but verify Be a sleuth/detective/sniff out trouble Start with the assumption that everyone is doing something wrong Does the guardian follow through with proposed tasks, doctor’s recommendations, etc.? Get documentation whenever possible

9 Critical Thinking The court puts a lot of responsibility in the GAL’s hands. You are the “eyes and the ears” of the court Make sure when appointed (post-adjudication) that the court order is clear as to what the GAL needs to investigate Be thorough Be suspicious -nursing homes are understaffed -CILAs are understaffed -caregivers are stressed and underpaid (or not paid)

10 Critical Thinking (cont’d) Try to make clear, concrete recommendations when at all possible -judges do not like it when a GAL does not offer a proposed solution! Always file a written report

11 Talk to the Experts Petition for a case manager or other expert if to be appointed if there are funds Petition for a specialized evaluation (psychiatric eval/neuropsych, etc.) Access free experts: Talk to the professionals involved -Doctors -Nurses (DON) -Nursing home social workers -Therapists Take advantage of CVLS supervisors and their extensive knowledge!

12 Become an expert Understand Pooled Trusts/investments Join the CBA Elder Law Committee Join the CBA Mental Health Law Committee Talk to other experts: -Office of the Public Guardian (Wendy Cappelletto intake attorney ) -Guardianship and Advocacy ( Office of State Guardian intake ) -Illinois Citizens for Better Care -Equip for Equality ( ) -Friendly probate attorneys

13 Go the extra mile Bring issues to the court’s attention Advocate for the ward Educate the guardian Guide the guardian If necessary: File a petition File a citation Refer to a psychiatrist Refer to a case manager Assist with psych hospitalization Call the elder abuse hotline Call 911


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