November 20, 2019
Indiana guardianships authorize a person to care for an incapacitated or disabled adult or minor child. Depending on the nature of the guardianship, care can involve attending to the ward’s personal needs, managing financial affairs, or both. To pursue guardianship of an individual, who would be known as the ward or protected person, you need to file a Petition for Guardianship with the applicable court and receive an appointment from a Judge. Because guardianship laws and petitions overlap with issues related to estate planning in Indiana, you can ask for guidance from an estate planning lawyer in Indiana at Webster & Garino.
Determine the Extent of Guardianship
Your Indiana Petition for Guardianship must specify whether you need the guardianship of the person, guardianship of the estate, or both. If you only need to serve as guardian of the person, then you would not have authority over financial matters and assets. Some situations will only call for limited or temporary guardianship.
Prepare for the Court Hearing
The process of becoming a legal guardian requires you to notify the close family members of the proposed ward as well as other parties or institutions that will bear responsibility toward the person. A prospective guardian should also assemble evidence that shows a thorough understanding of the ward’s health and financial position. The Court will want to see a Physician’s Report that confirms that the person cannot manage personal needs or finances. A guardianship lawyer in Indiana can prepare the necessary Court paperwork.
What the Court Considers
Multiple factors guide a Judge’s decision. Potential wards who can do so may express their wishes about who becomes a guardian. If the person is incapatitated or cannot speak, any guardianship desires stated in a power of attorney or will can be presented to the court. The relationship between a proposed guardian and ward can matter too. Overall, the law requires the Court to rule based on the best interests of the ward. If a judge issues a letter of guardianship, the document will explain the specific terms and powers of the appointment.
A legal guardian needs to prepare an inventory of the ward’s property for the court within 90 days of appointment. A temporary guardianship shortens this requirement to 30 days. Every two years thereafter, the guardian must report to the court about the ward’s health and finances.
Seek Legal Assistance
If a person is appointed guardian over you, that person will have control over your healthcare and financial decisions. If you don’t want the appointment of a guardian left entirely up to the discretion of the Court, it is important that you discuss your estate plan with an Indiana Estate planning attorney. At Webster and Garino our Westfield estate planning attorneys will advise you on how to avoid a guardianship proceeding with the use of an Indiana power of attorney, Indiana Living Will and/or possibly avoid a contested guardianship proceeding by simply appointing a guardian in your Will for your children.
Becoming a guardian imposes multiple legal duties, and a consultation with a guardianship attorney can prepare you to comply with the demands of the role. Contact a Westfield guardianship attorney at Webster and Garino and schedule an appointment today.