Creating A Legal Guardianship For Children, Elders, And The Disabled Or Incapacitated
If a family member has lost the capacity to provide for their own care or handle their own finances, it may be necessary to assert guardianship to protect the loved one from themselves or from people who would take advantage of their vulnerability. The elder law attorneys of Slater Law Office LLC can guide you through the legal process of establishing a guardianship in central Indiana.
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 Indiana guardianship law and will help you every step of the way.
Guardianship Is A Big Responsibility
Guardianship should be reserved for those situations when it is truly necessary, as there are individual rights that are lost when the court appoints a guardian. Among the responsibilities that are transferred from the ward to the guardian:
- Decision-making regarding the ward’s place of residence
- Consent to medical treatment such as surgery
- End-of-life decisions such as life support and palliative care
- Financial transactions/decisions, including paying bills and managing investments
- Buying or selling real estate or other property
- Filing lawsuits or engaging in litigation
- Management of the ward’s estate
In many cases, the ward forfeits civil liberties such as the right to possess a driver’s license, to vote or to possess firearms. Care must be taken not to deprive the person of all decisions, freedoms and dignity. That guardian’s job is to protect the ward, not control their life.
Types Of Guardianships
- Guardianship of the person – This involves making decisions about personal programs, medical care, residence and the release of confidential information.
- Guardianship of the estate – This involves managing and making decisions about financial matters, benefits, real estate and other property. This role is often referred to as conservator.
- Plenary guardianship – This means full decision-making authority, attached to the 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.
- Limited guardianship – This 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.
Explore Guardianship In More Detail
Our lawyers can discuss the appropriate type of guardianship and explain the legal process. We also have experience with contested guardianship proceedings, in which the ward or other family members object to the need or to the appointee.