Indiana Guardianship for Children & Incapacitated Adults
What is Guardianship, and What Rights are Conveyed?
In Indiana, an adult can petition the court to become the guardian over another person, who can be either a child or an adult. The person making the petition is referred to as the “guardian,” and the person over whom guardianship is being sought is referred to as the “ward.”
A guardianship order typically the guardian with full authority to make decisions concerning the welfare of the ward, such as making lifestyle decisions, medical decisions, and other decisions. In some instances, the guardian will also be vested with control over the financial interests of the ward (this is sometimes referred to as “conservatorship”).
The guardian must always act in the ward’s best interest while caring for the ward.
Common Guardianship Circumstances
There are three common circumstances that often lead to the need for guardianship:
- A sole parent or custodial parent becomes unable to care for his or her children. As an example, a mother who has full custodial care of her children may become unable to do so due to mental or other illness, drug or alcohol addiction, or incarceration. In these cases, often grandparents or other family members will seek custody of the child(ren), so that the child(ren) will have responsible adults who can provide care, and who will have the legal authority to make decisions on their behalf.
- A special needs teenager who reaches age 18. When minors reach adulthood, parents are no longer able to automatically act on their behalf, even in extreme cases where the child has special needs and cannot act on his or her own. In order for the parents to continue to be able make decisions for their special needs son or daughter who is now an adult, one or both parents will need to petition the court for guardianship.
- An adult who becomes unable to care for themself as the result of injury or disease. These circumstances can come on suddenly (such as if a person is in a terrible accident and sustains a severe traumatic brain injury) or they may come on gradually (such as an older adult experiencing Alzheimer’s).
Regardless of the reason behind the need for guardianship, guardianship should be sought as soon as possible, as there will almost always be important decisions that need to be undertaken concerning those over whom guardianship is needed.
I Can Help You with Your Guardianship Needs
Please call me to learn more. If there are extenuating and urgent situations in which guardianship is required, I can help in taking such emergency actions as may be possible.