What is a Guardian?
A guardian is a person who has both duty and legal authority to care for the personal, legal and property interests of a “ward”. A guardian is needed when an individual is physically or mentally incapacitated to the point that he or she is unable to communicate or make sound decisions independently. The need for guardianship can apply to individuals of all ages, from elders who are incapacitated to children and adults with special needs who are unable to care for themselves.
When deciding that a guardianship is in the best interests of the individual, it is essential to have a knowledgeable attorney with an extensive amount of experience in the field. If you are considering this process for a loved one, our attorneys are experienced in Guardianship law in Indiana and will help you every step of the way.
Rights of the Individual
Guardianship should for those situations when it is truly necessary, as there are individual rights that lost when the court appoints a guardian. Rights that may be lost when a guardian is appointed include (but are not limited to):
- Management of an estate
- Decision-making regarding the individual’s place of residence
- Consent to medical treatment.
- End-of-life decisions.
- Financial transactions/decisions
- Possession of a driver’s license.
- Buying or selling property.
- Filing lawsuits.
Types of Guardianships
- Person – makes decisions about person, programs, medical care, residence, release of confidential information.
- Estate – manages and makes decisions about financial matters, benefits, real estate and other property; often referred to as conservator.
- Plenary – means total and can be attached to guardianship of person or estate or both. In most states there are exclusions to plenary guardianship, which may be residential placement, certain medical procedures, and sale or transfer of property. The guidelines again are in the state laws regulating guardianship.
- Limited – means that the guardian has only the authority specifically given by court order. The ward keeps all other decision-making rights not specifically outlined by the court order. In most states the appointment of a limited guardian does not equal a finding of legal incompetence.
- Successor – the court appoints another guardian when the original guardian dies, resigns, or is removed. Usually the successor has the same powers as the original guardian.
- Conservatorship – At times, an abbreviated guardianship, known as a conservatorship, is the better option. While a guardian is deemed by the courts to be responsible for the health care, food, housing, and end of life decisions, a conservator has responsibilities that solely govern the financial aspects of an incapacitated individual.