Becoming a Guardian

Obtain a Petition for Appointment of Guardian of a Minor from the Probate Clerk at the Circuit Clerk's Office in the Lake County Courthouse. After the Petition is complete, bring it to the Probate Clerk and pay the filing fee. At this time, have the clerk schedule your case for hearing on the Guardianship call. The filing fee may be waived in cases of financial hardship.

Give written notice of the date, time, and place of the hearing by mail or in person, to the parents or nearest relatives of the minor (and to any person who already has legal custody or guardianship of the minor) at least 3 days before the hearing date.

The "nearest relatives" of an unmarried minor are the parents and adult brothers and sisters of the minor. If there are no living parents or adult brothers and sisters of the minor, then the next nearest adult relatives such as grandparents and/or aunts and uncles are considered the "nearest relatives".

A non-custodial parent is entitled to notice of a hearing on a guardianship petition.
Notice may be sent by using a notice of motion form available from the clerk.

At the hearing you must either:
  • Present proof to the court that you gave notice to the parents or nearest relatives,
  • Present a written consent letter signed by the parents or nearest relatives saying that they agree that you should become the guardian for the minor child. Be sure the letter contains the child's name and your name. The letter needs to be notarized (signed by the parents or relatives in the presence of a notary public).
Locating Parents
If one or both parents of the minor are dead, you must file their death certificates with the Petition.

If a parent cannot be located, you must show the last known address of the missing parent and send notice to that parent at the last known address.

Consent of Minor
If the minor is 14 years old or older, he or she must either consent in writing to the guardianship or be given written notice of the hearing on the Petition.

Bring the minor to the hearing with you. Check to be sure the minor's name is on the list of cases to be heard. (If it is not, tell the court clerk in the courtroom.) When the Judge calls the name of the minor, step up to the bench.

After the hearing, if the court has agreed to appoint you as the minor's guardian, the Probate Clerk will send you letters of office that you can take to the school or to anyone else who needs to know you have authority to act for the minor.

If you are named to be the guardian of the estate of the minor, you must file a bond approved by the court. Unless excused by the court, every bond must be guaranteed by at least 2 individual sureties or by a corporate surety company. A surety guarantees that a guardian will faithfully discharge the duties of guardian. A surety may have to pay back money that a guardian loses, steals, misuses, or mismanages up to the amount of the bond.

If 2 individuals act as sureties, the amount of the bond must be double the value of the minor's personal estate. The individual sureties must sign a notarized list of their assets which must be attached to the bond.

If a corporate surety is used, the amount of the bond is 1.5 times the value of the minor's personal estate. A surety company will charge the estate an annual premium like a premium on an insurance policy.

Surety on the bond may be excused if the money in the estate is deposited either:
  • In trust with a trust company
  • In a government insured account in a bank, savings and loan association, or credit union, subject to withdrawal only upon court order
  • In United States obligations deposited for safekeeping in an approved depository, subject to withdrawal only upon court order.
If the money may be withdrawn only upon court order, a receipt of the depository showing that no withdrawals will be allowed without court order must be filed with the Clerk of the Court. The receipt is called a Certificate of Depository. Forms are available from the Probate Clerk.