from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit, Will
County, Illinois. Appeal No. 3-15-0834 Circuit No. 06-P-719
The Honorable J. Jeffrey Allen, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Justices Carter and O'Brien concurred in the judgment and
1 Petitioner Susann M. Zoleske was appointed guardian of the
estate of her mother, Marion Young Tait. The trial court
removed petitioner as guardian. Petitioner appeals, arguing
that the trial court erred when it removed her as guardian
because it did not comply with section 23-3 of the Probate
Act of 1975 (Probate Act) (755 ILCS 5/23-3 (West 2014)). We
reverse and remand.
3 In 2006, petitioner Susann M. Zoleske was appointed
guardian of the person and estate of her mother, Marion Young
Tait, a 95-year-old woman who had been adjudicated a disabled
adult. The estate was valued at approximately $138, 000. The
trial court waived the requirement of surety for bond, and
the court-appointed guardian ad litem, Colleen Mary
Wengler, raised no objection to the appointment of petitioner
as guardian. Petitioner filed her first accounting report,
which the trial court approved, in October 2009. At the time,
the trial court waived the filing of any subsequent
4 Four years later, in response to a form request from the
court for status, petitioner advised the court that Marion
was still living and also filed a pro se petition
requesting the transfer of Marion's real estate to
Marion's daughter, Barbara Tait. Barbara was the primary
caregiver and had lived in Marion's residence for 35
years. Petitioner also filed a pro se accounting
report of Marion's estate. Wengler was again appointed
guardian ad litem for Marion to review the petition
and accounting report. The trial court ordered petitioner to
provide Wengler with a copy of the accounting report.
5 At a hearing in December 2013, the accounting report was
not ruled on, and the matter was continued to a later date.
In January 2014, the court noted that petitioner had failed
to comply with the trial court's order to provide Wengler
with the accounting report. Also, the court noted that
petitioner was required to file an annual report on Marion.
The trial court ordered petitioner to provide the annual
report and the accounting report at the next status hearing.
6 At a hearing in April 2014, petitioner presented Wengler
with a copy of the accounting report but failed to file an
annual report. The matter was continued to the next status
hearing. Before the hearing, Wengler stated her objections to
the accounting report but neither presented nor filed her
objections in writing.
7 At a hearing in June 2014, petitioner filed an annual
report, which the trial court approved, and a status hearing
was set to review the accounting report. Also in June,
counsel appeared for the first time on behalf of petitioner
and requested additional time to file an amended accounting
to respond to Wengler's objections. The matter was set
for another status hearing.
8 At a hearing in November 2014, counsel filed the first
amended accounting report, which the trial court did not
approve. A second amended accounting report was filed in July
2015, and the court ordered petitioner to post a surety bond
within 30 days. Petitioner never posted bond.
9 A third amended accounting report was filed in September
2015. On September 25, 2015, Wengler expressed her issues
regarding the original and amended accounting reports and
requested a "brief pretrial conference" to discuss
her concerns. The following colloquy took place:
"THE COURT: All right. What is before us today?
[GUARDIAN AD LITEM]: We are before the Court today,
Judge, for continued consideration of approval of the
guardian's third amended accounting covering the periods
of 2010 through 2015.
The third amended accounting has been filed with the Court. I
have had an opportunity to review it. And I have had an
opportunity to speak also with Miss Dollinger.
I do have concerns with regard to the accounting that has
been provided as well as the second and third amended
accountings that have been provided. So I am not in a
position at this point to recommend in favor of the approval
of those accountings.
There are a few issues. And I think perhaps the best way
at this point to proceed would be to conduct a brief pretrial
conference with [Y]our Honor so that you can be made aware of
what the issues are and ...