Separating the Legal from the Emotional Issues

By Elder Law and Estate Planning attorney Rick Law.  Founder of the Estate Planning Center at Law Elder Law in West suburban Aurora, IL.

The dynamic issues that often arise in contested guardianship cases are factually and legally complex and often bring forward sensitive and personal issues. It is your lawyer’s responsibility to separate the legal issues from the often complex emotional matters while zealously advocating for you, the client – all the while maintaining the integrity of the person with alleged disabilities and the parties involved.

The guardian should always seek court authority to commence, prosecute, or defend any suit on behalf of the ward. After appointment, all suits and proceedings on behalf of the ward should be brought by the guardian in the capacity as guardian, rather than in the name of the person with disabilities.

The guardian of the estate may settle any lawsuit involving the ward, but the probate court must first approve settlement as in the best interests of the ward.

A care manager was notified of an elderly woman who was living alone. She was suffering from a lot of physical deficits and allegedly had two bad sons.

A capable lawyer presented the case as an emergency because one of the sons was a convicted felon who was getting out of jail in three days and was going to move back in with his mother. In the past, the son prevented her from getting any care because he would threaten caregivers with knives and various other forms of violence.

The woman had slight Alzheimer’s and a fierce loyalty to her son and insisted that her son was fine and wasn’t causing problems. However, the caregivers would all leave, which then put her in a dire situation. So the lawyer’s job was to go into court, get a temporary guardianship in place, and protect the woman by stopping the convicted felon son from moving back into her house.

The experienced guardianship lawyer on the case was able to present the urgency of moving forward and getting orders of protection through the guardianship court to protect this woman from the convicted felon.

Checking past police reports, the lawyer found reports of 46 police visits to the home for violent episodes. These reports included domestic violence, violence against the neighbors, brandishing a butcher knife, and chasing caregivers around the apartment. The woman had forgotten about these incidents due to her Alzheimer’s.

The lawyer was able to get an emergency guardianship in place within 24 hours. Professional caregivers were appointed to manage the care environment and care providers.

With the ex-con son out of the picture, the care managers discovered that the other son wasn’t really a bad guy. It turned out that he was petrified of his brother and wouldn’t go and help in the house when his brother was present because he feared for his safety. They were able to work with the other son, and the mother actually moved in with her “better son.” A 24-hour caregiver was put in place to monitor the situation.

After a short period of time, it was prudent to pull out the 24-hour caregiver. The good son has been able to take care of his mother for the last two years. The other son is not disrupting the care anymore, and it’s actually a very successful and economical outcome.

If your loved one has memory problems and you’re afraid of the consequences that may bring, give our office a call today at 800-310-3100.  Your first consultation is absolutely free.  We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.  Call now.


Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.

Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine,, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law Elder Law, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.  Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!

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