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In re Estate of Wilson

May 18, 2007

IN RE ESTATE OF MARY ANN WILSON, A ARNETTA WILLIAMS, GUARDIAN OF THE ESTATE OF MARY ANN WILSON PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
KAREN A. BAILEY, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Disabled Person Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 06 P 3549 The Honorable Maureen E. Connors, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice O'malley

Petitioner Arnetta Williams petitioned the circuit court of Cook County to appoint her temporary guardian of her cousin, Mary Ann Wilson. The circuit court granted her motion and named her temporary guardian of Wilson and her estate. Respondent Karen Bailey filed a preliminary injunction seeking to enjoin petitioner from exercising any authority pursuant to the circuit court's grant of temporary guardianship. The circuit court denied respondent's motion for a preliminary injunction and respondent appealed, claiming that the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction for failure to meet the requirements of section 2-10 of the Illinois Power of Attorney Act (the Power of Attorney Act) (755 ILCS 45/2-10 (West 2004)) and section 11a-18(e) of the Probate Act of 1975 (the Probate Act) (755 ILCS 5/11a-18(e) (West 2004)). For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court.

BACKGROUND

Mary Ann Wilson was born on April 16, 1920, and lived at 10963 South Sangamon Street in Chicago, Illinois, on May 3, 2006. On that same day, Wilson was discovered in her home "totally abandoned, in feces, confused, [unable] to walk or talk, and had lost a lot of weight." Protective services were called and Wilson was admitted to St. Elizabeth Hospital, where a psychiatric evaluation revealed that she was "oriented only to name, [unable] to give her medical history, [and had] impaired concentration." On May 12, 2006, Isaac Heard, Sr., Wilson's brother from North Carolina, filed petitions seeking the appointment of Arnetta Williams, Wilson's cousin, as guardian for Wilson and one seeking to appoint Williams as temporary guardian.*fn1 The circuit court appointed Sandra Thiel as guardian ad litem (GAL) for Wilson and directed her to furnish the court with a written report on May 15, 2006, when it would rule on the petition for temporary guardianship pursuant to section 11a-4 of the Probate Act.

On May 15, 2006, the GAL filed her written report relative to her meeting with Wilson and appeared before the court for a hearing, where Williams was also present. The GAL presented serious concerns to the circuit court regarding Wilson's physical and financial condition. The GAL also discovered that Karen A. Bailey was Wilson's agent under several powers of attorney for her property, real estate and healthcare issued in January 2004. Williams and the GAL presented information to the court that bank accounts containing over $180,000 had been withdrawn by Bailey pursuant to her authority under the power of attorney. Due to the deplorable circumstances under which Wilson was discovered, as well as her health and mental issues, the GAL strongly urged the circuit court to temporarily suspend the powers of attorney granted to Bailey.

Based on the preliminary information and the GAL's recommendation, the circuit court temporarily suspended Bailey's authority under the powers of attorney naming her Wilson's agent and appointed Williams as temporary guardian until a hearing on the petition for plenary guardianship could be heard. The court directed Williams through the order appointing her temporary guardian to: (1) arrange for routine medical care; (2) place Wilson in the South Shore Nursing and Rehabilitation Center; (3) 1-06-2115 investigate funds and mail belonging to Wilson; (4) investigate the powers of attorney; and (5) have access to all of Wilson's medical records.

On June 7, 2006, Bailey filed an emergency motion to vacate the circuit court's order appointing Williams as temporary guardian and Sandra Thiel as GAL; issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Williams and the GAL from any further action concerning Wilson; and "issue a mandatory injunction for Arnetta Williams to reveal the whereabouts of $200,000 and account for the same." On June 8, the circuit court heard arguments in a hearing on Bailey's emergency motion. During the hearing, David Service, Wilson's stepson and Bailey's husband, appeared on June 8, 2006, and filed a petition for guardianship which he withdrew, leaving Bailey as the only party seeking vacation of the circuit court's May 15 order. The following colloquy occurred relative to what Williams had learned since the May 15, 2006 order had been issued:

"MS. WILLIAMS: I discovered some very disturbing things.

THE COURT: For Example?

A: For example, Ms. Wilson had a USB account that had approximately $187,000 in it,

Q: Okay.

A: That had been withdrawn by Karen Bailey.

Q: Do you know when?

A: Yes August [2005] it was $25,400.

Q: Say again?

A: $25,400 was the initial withdrawal. That was into Credit Union One, credit union, and I believe that's Ms. Bailey's personal credit union.

Q: So that was $25,000 of the $187[,000]?

A: Yes and then the balance of that was withdrawn in November '05 last year.

Q: Do you know what happened to the proceeds?

A: That money was deposited into Mary Wilson's account at LaSalle Bank. Since that time the money has been pretty much withdrawn. That account has been as high as a hundred and - - well, I don't know.

Q: Okay.

A: And that's gone. It's down to about $3,000 now.

Q: Three thousand?

A: Yes, it's about according [sic] to my preliminary calculations.

Q: Okay. So Mr. Brady [sic], what brings you to court today, sir?

MR. BRADEN [Attorney for Respondent Bailey]: The whole purpose of this motion, I'm sure you read it, is to vacate all orders here. The reason is, our position is that the provisions of the statute has not been ...


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