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Guardianship For Disabled Adults In Indiana

Updated on
October 22, 2020
Article written by
Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article, we will discuss the basics of guardianships for disabled adults in Indiana, and answer the following questions:


  • What is a guardian?
  • What are the responsibilities of a guardian?
  • What level of authority is given to an Indiana guardian for a disabled adult?
  • What rights does the disabled adult retain regardless of the guardian’s authority?
  • Can guardianships for disabled adults be modified or terminated in Indiana?
  • What alternatives to guardianships are available in Indiana?


What Is A Guardian?


In the unfortunate event that an adult becomes disabled due to an accident, injury, or medical illness, a guardian can be assigned to take over some or all of the disabled adult’s rights and responsibilities. The guardian is assigned by the court, who determines the protected person’s degree of disability through medical reports, investigation, and testimony. The protected person is someone who is unable to care for themself or their property due to disability and/or illness.


What Are The Responsibilities Of A Guardian?


The responsibilities of a guardian for a disabled adult in Indiana may vary depending on the finds of the court, but in general, can include:


  • Supervising the protected person’s medical care;
  • Supervising the protected person’s assets, property, and finances;
  • Providing regular reports to the court on the protected person’s medical care, financial situation, and overall wellbeing; and
  • Assisting the protected person in working towards independence, if possible.


What Level Of Authority Is Given To An Indiana Guardian For A Disabled Adult?


Ultimately, the court will determine what level of authority the guardian should have based on what is in the protected person’s best interest. The court will typically try to preserve the protected person’s autonomy while making sure they are adequately cared for. Some of an Indiana guardian’s authority may include, but are not limited to:


  • The power to enter into legal contracts;
  • Consent to medical care for the protected person;
  • Decide the best place for the protected person to live;
  • Make financial decisions for the protected person, including managing bank accounts; and
  • Whether the protected person should get married or divorce.


A guardian’s level of authority can be limited based on the decision of the court. Under Indiana law, the court is required to limit the guardianship to what is in the best interest of the protected person and to promote independence, self-reliance, and self-improvement. If an individual is petitioning for guardianship, he or she can suggest the level of authority that is appropriate and the court will take this into account along with all the other evidence presented at the guardianship hearing.


What Rights Does The Disabled Adult Retain Regardless Of The Guardian’s Authority?


Unless the court specifically restricts certain rights, a protected person in Indiana will always retain the right to:


  • Spend time with friends and family;
  • Vote in local and national elections;
  • Petition for the court to appoint a different guardian; and
  • Petition for the court to modify or terminate the guardianship.


Can Guardianships For Disabled Adults Be Modified Or Terminated In Indiana?


A petition for modification or termination of an adult guardianship in Indiana is appropriate under the following circumstances:


  • The protected person petitions;
  • The protected person dies;
  • The protected person can take on more responsibility;
  • The guardian has not been keeping up with their duties;
  • The guardianship is no longer necessary for whatever reason


It is important to note that if the guardian petitions to resign, the resignation first requires court approval and is not immediately guaranteed. For any modification or termination, the court will set a hearing date at which all interested parties can present evidence and give testimony.


Guardianship For Disabled Adults In Indiana
Author

Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty

Kevin O’Flaherty is a graduate of the University of Iowa and Chicago-Kent College of Law. He has experience in litigation, estate planning, bankruptcy, real estate, and comprehensive business representation.

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