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Legal Counsel And Guidance Regarding Guardianships In Indiana

There are numerous legal and personal complications when it comes to guardianships. In cases of adult guardianships, there are issues of loss of freedom to make one’s own decisions and the challenges of loss of capacity and trust. There are legal challenges involved with establishing a guardianship and setting it up to protect your interests. You should never enter into considerations regarding guardianships without the help of a trusted team of lawyers to provide you with good counsel and guide you through the process.

At Severns & Howard, P.C., we are known as “The Pathfinders of Elder Law.” For more than 30 years, we have been helping Indiana clients with the legal aspects of establishing guardianships for elderly relatives. We also handle child guardianships and guardianships for children with special needs. Serving clients throughout the Indianapolis area, we are a trusted name for all types of guardianship issues.

The Basics Of Guardianships

What Is A Guardianship?

A guardianship is the name for a judicial proceeding in which someone (called the guardian) is appointed by the court to look after the financial and/or personal affairs of another (called the ward). Generally, a guardianship is given for the purpose of making critical decisions for someone who does not have legal capacity to make those decisions. There are guardianships for children, people with special needs and the elderly. Many people include provisions for guardianships of their minor children in their estate plans.

How Is A Guardianship Established?

A guardianship is established through a court proceeding resulting in a court order.  When a guardianship is established through a court order, someone must petition a court to establish a Guardianship. The Court schedules a hearing to determine whether the person over whom the Guardianship is sought is legally incapacitated.

Medical evidence of incapacity is usually required. If the judge decides that the person is legally incapacitated and in need of protection, the judge may appoint a Guardian over the person’s finances (Guardian of the Estate) or the person’s personal decision-making (Guardian of the Person) or both.  When there is no guardianship provision in probate, the court will name a guardian. It is important to make that choice yourself rather than have the court do it for you.

Who Can Be A Guardian?

The court can appoint any competent adult or an institution, such as a bank trust department, to serve as guardian to manage the protected person’s affairs. Indiana law gives preference to the spouse, adult children, and other close relatives if they are willing to serve. If the protected person has previously stated a preference of the person to be appointed through a will, power of attorney, or similar declaration, the court will usually consider the protected person’s preference.

What Are The Responsibilities Of A Guardian?

A guardian’s primary responsibility is to manage the protected person’s affairs in the best interests of the protected person. Generally, a guardian may not use the protected person’s assets for the guardian’s benefit.

Conversely, one does not assume personal financial responsibility for the protected person by becoming guardian. A guardian of the person will have authority over personal and health care decisions such as consent to treatment and decisions about where the protected person will live. In Indiana, the court’s typically require a report updating the court on the ward and an accounting of the wards assets to be filed every two years.

Contact Our Firm

If you are interested in establishing a guardianship as part of your estate plan, you are considering establishing a guardianship for elderly parents who might be losing capacity or you are a guardian who needs legal help fulfilling your duties, talk with our lawyers today. We can help you.

With more than 30 years of experience handling all types of estate planning, elder law and guardianship issues, our legal team can provide you with sound counsel and representation. Call us today at 1-800-335-3971 or fill out our online contact form, and we will reply promptly.