Guardianship rules and rights.

Hi. I need to ask a question that can help me with certain rights.

I know a friend of mine who has autism and told from the psychiatrist he is incompetent. His mother became the guardian of his son. There is one problem, her son does have some skills and some independence. He is incredibly intelligent, he knows how to take a shower, put his clothes on his own and a few other things. By saying that, does it sound to you he is completely incompetent? I say no. Don't get me wrong, he does have pros and cons of autism but he is not severely incompetent. Because of that, does he have any rights at all to claim the independence of his rights? He receives Social Security call, SSI but his mom is controlling the money. Her son is only 20 years old, going to be 21 around April 2nd. At some point does he have the right to buy whatever he wants if he does not want to eat the food in the house at all but he wants to get something different from ordering online? Because he was worried his mom is going to say no or getting to trouble. He asks someone else he trusts ordered something to eat online for him. Don't get me wrong, he always pays back what he owed. In the end, his mom found out about it and told him and the person who helped him, don't ever that again. To me, that's rude and disrespectful. Especially he can do some things and some independence.

Please help. He lives in Illinois.


Thank you

  • I can tell you are concerned for your friend, and that is great. The rules for guardianship may be different from state to state. Knowing how and being able to dress oneself is a long way from being capable of making sound financial, educational, and medical decisions. This is why the courts monitor guardians and why they carefully evaluate what the person can and can't do for themselves before allowing there to be a guardian for an adult. It sounds to me like your friend borrows money and then his guardian is under pressure to pay it back for him out of the ssi. If the guardian has full guardianship then the protected person (your friend) is actually not supposed to be signing contracts, or making agreements -even just verbal agreements - to borrow and repay money. People who know your friend has a guardian should know better, they should know that as long as he has a guardian he is not free to obligate himself, and the guardian actually does not have to pay those inappropriate loans back.

    I know my statement seems kind of strong, and it's based on general principles of what it means to have a guardian and the laws in my state (which is not Illinois). Your question doesn't say whether your friend's mother has full or limited guardianship. But since you describe your friend's level as being able to dress himself (not something higher), and he's needing you to ask this for him then it sounds like his mother probably has full guardianship.

    Also, please consider that SSI is not very much money at all. It has to be used to pay for his housing, clothing, medical not covered by insurance, possibly transportation, and possibly some food or a small amount of recreation. It's not reasonable for your friend to be spending more than his guardian agrees to on the kinds of unnecessary food young men like ( I have a 19 year old son, so I know what kinds of food you're talking about). SSI is not free spending money, it is a federal welfare/subsistence payment.

    If you'd like more information about guardianship in Illinois here's a link to some very basic info:

    Also, if you're interested in more information about SSI you can check out, the website for the social security administration which manages SSI (even though it is not technically a social security payment).

    Best wishes to you, your friend, and his mom/guardian.