2.18.14 Guardian Ad Litem powerpoint

Guardian Ad Litems in
Guardianship Proceedings
Vida E. Cruz
Staff Attorney
Illinois Disability Association
[email protected]
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
• Trust officer (US Bank and Chase)
• Staff attorney-- Pooled Trust since 2004
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
Meeting the ward (or alleged disabled person)
Nursing home/hospital visits:
-review medical chart
-talk to floor nurse
-psych nurse
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
Home Visit Checklist cont’d:
• Appropriate dress
• Hygiene
• Medications
• Food
• bills, mail
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
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
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)
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
• Always file a written report
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,
• Access free experts:
• Talk to the professionals involved
-Nurses (DON)
-Nursing home social workers
• Take advantage of CVLS supervisors and their extensive knowledge!
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 intake708-338-7500)
-Illinois Citizens for Better Care
-Equip for Equality (312-341-0022)
-Friendly probate attorneys
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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