Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County; the Hon. John A.
Krause, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE UNVERZAGT DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
This appeal arises from certain orders entered in the circuit court of Kane County following a guardianship hearing held pursuant to the Probate Act of 1975. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 110 1/2, par. 11a-1 et seq.) The February 1, 1983, orders provided that the respondent, Harold L. Bennett, was a disabled person in need of a limited guardian for his person and estate. Nola Bennett, Harold's mother, and Marie Marler, Harold's sister, were appointed as limited co-guardians. Harold's wife, Betty S. Bennett, the initial petitioner in the proceedings, filed an appeal from the orders.
On April 16, 1981, Betty S. Bennett (petitioner) filed a petition for appointment of guardian for disabled person. She alleged that her husband, Harold L. Bennett (Harold or respondent), was a disabled person in need of a plenary guardian. The petitioner asked that she be appointed plenary guardian for Harold's person and his estate.
On April 27, 1981, the court appointed Donald Hughes as guardian ad litem for the respondent. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 110 1/2, par. 11a-10.) The guardian ad litem served a notice of petition and rights on the respondent. He also filed an answer and report to the petition for guardianship on July 29, 1981. A hearing was held at which the guardian ad litem presented his report.
The guardian ad litem stated in the report that he met with the respondent. He also spoke with the petitioner, Harold's sister, brother and mother. The guardian ad litem was satisfied that the respondent was unable to manage his financial affairs and to care for himself and was in need of a plenary guardian.
Attorney Van Richards was appointed to represent the respondent during the proceedings.
On the court's own motion, two physicians were appointed to conduct independent examinations of the respondent. The doctors, F.P. Johnson, M.D., and Werner Tuteur, M.D., filed reports.
Nola Bennett and Marie Marler (cross-petitioners) filed an answer to petition and a cross-petition on December 16, 1981. Subsequently an amended answer and cross-petition were filed. The cross-petitioners requested that either one or both of them be appointed as limited guardians for Harold's person and estate.
The guardianship hearing began on July 1, 1982, and it extended over several months on various dates. It was a bench hearing. The court had granted the respondent's motion to be excused from the hearing during the time he was not testifying.
The incident which led to the guardianship proceeding was a stroke suffered by Harold on June 13, 1979. Harold underwent brain surgery about a month after the stroke. After the initial surgery, he was placed in the hospital again in order to have a shunt placed in his head. Harold was finally discharged from the hospital on November 16, 1979. At the time the hearing began he was 51 years old and was living with his mother.
From Harold's own testimony it was evident that he had a speech impediment. However, he was well aware of his current situation. Harold could identify people, knew dates, understood his health problems, and could recall things in the past, although with some difficulty. He indicated an understanding of the questions posed to him. He showed an understanding of his financial affairs such as his income sources. He also had a fairly accurate understanding of the value of his estate. Although Harold seemed confused at times, some of the confusion was caused by a failure of those in the courtroom to understand him. He was also testifying for a long time.
Much of the testimony from the petitioner was irrelevant to Harold's current condition. The petitioner had not had any close contact with Harold in over a year. Although the petitioner described the respondent's physical and mental capacities during the time she cared for him as being quite limited, she said that Harold participated in the decision-making in certain financial matters involving personal property sales.
Testimony was heard from the cross-petitioners, Harold's brother-in-law, and two people who resided in the house where Harold lived. There was also testimony from four expert witnesses.
The testimony showed that Harold could walk with the aid of a walker although he also used a wheelchair. At home he could walk with the help of railings installed in the house by his sister and brother-in-law. Harold could feed, shave, and bathe himself. He also ...