Elderly Guardianship in Indiana
Indiana law has established the concept of guardianship to address situations in which people need a third party to manage some or all of their affairs. Legal guardianship for an adult in Indiana arises when a disabled minor reaches age 18 or an adult experiences physical or mental incapacity later in life. Family law in Indiana directs the exercise of guardianship powers, although probate and trust laws can sometimes involve guardians. Guardianship may take different forms, such as a limited guardianship, temporary guardianship, or full guardianship.
Legal Definition of Incapacitated Person
A person who cannot manage property sufficiently, provide self-care, or both could meet the legal criteria for identifying an incapacitated person as described in Indiana Code 29-3-1-7.5. Possible reasons for incapacity are:
- Mental illness
- Development disability
- Mental deficiency
- Physical disease
- Habitual drunkenness
- Excessive drug abuse
- Incarceration, confinement, or detention
- Undue influence
Primary reasons most often cited within guardianship petitions include dementia, physical illness, developmental disability, and traumatic brain injury.
How Is An Adult Guardian Chosen?
A court will evaluate the fitness of a person or organization that petitions for guardianship of an individual. A guardian may be a reasonably functional adult, government agency, or corporation.
After someone files a petition for guardianship, notice must be given to all interested parties, and a hearing scheduled with a court. Noblesville lawyers at Webster & Garino practice family law and estate law and assist clients with this process.
At the hearing, the judge will confirm the person’s incapacity and the suitability of the proposed guardian. Upon approval, the judge will issue a court order that establishes the guardian’s legal responsibilities toward the ward or protected person. A court maintains the power to terminate a guardianship or replace a guardian.
General Duties of the Guardian
A guardian may make all or some of the necessary life decisions for an incapacitated person depending on the court order’s scope. Duties generally fall into the three categories of health care decisions, financial management, and seeking disability benefits for the ward. Courts typically expect guardians to prepare reports about their activities on behalf of the individual to confirm that a ward’s finances and personal needs are being looked after appropriately.
Compare Guardianship to Alternatives
Many people are familiar with the legal concept of guardianship, which makes them immediately think of it when the need arises. However, except in cases of apparent incapacity, an alternative to full guardianship may be the best way to ensure fair outcomes without overly revoking a person’s independence. A power of attorney or formal agreement for shared decision making may provide an ideal solution in some cases. Guardianship with specific limitations could address areas of need while allowing a ward some portion of independence. To make the important decision regarding guardianship for an adult, contact the Noblesville lawyers at Webster and Garino. Call (317) 565-1818 today.
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