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This article discusses Indiana’s Guardianship Laws to help you better understand them. Specifically, this article will answer the following questions:  

  • What is the difference between guardianship and conservatorship in Indiana?  
  • How does guardianship work in Indiana?  
  • What is the difference between emergency guardianship and permanent guardianship?  

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What Is The Difference Between Guardianship And Conservatorship In Indiana?  

Conservatorship is known as guardianship in Indiana. Guardianship can be appointed  

  • over an estate  
  • for the person (minor or incapacitated adult) and their estate  

Guardianship over the estate covers the person’s property and financial affairs. Guardianship over a person allows the guardian to make decisions like  

  • where the person lives  
  • medical decisions  
  • educational decisions  

Some common reasons for guardianship include  

  • Elderly with dementia  
  • Adult in a nursing home who becomes mentally incompetent  
  • Children that have inherited assets  
  • Over an adult child  
  • A parent is not able to care for the child  
  • parent is incarcerated  
  • child services were involved  
  • Other purposes that benefit the child  

Paperwork for guardianship

How Does Guardianship Work In Indiana?  

A guardianship petition starts the legal guardianship process. A person must file a petition in a probate or guardianship court asking for someone who needs to be protected. Once filed, the court will schedule a hearing where each party will be heard.  

An independent person, called guardian ad litem (“GAL”), will be appointed to the matter to evaluate the situation by speaking with every person involved, including the alleged disabled person, any physicians, the potential guardian, etc. Additionally, the GAL will collect information related to guardianship and present their findings to the judge at the hearing.  

The court will decide whether the person can care for their financial affairs and mental wellbeing. If the court finds that the person cannot do those things on their own, the court will appoint the petitioner as the person’s guardian.  


What Is The Difference Between Emergency Guardianship And Permanent Guardianship?

An emergency guardianship is temporary, lasting for no longer than 60 days, but can be ordered by a court without holding a hearing first. To establish permanent guardianship, the parties must have a hearing first. If the judge rules in favor of guardianship, it will last as long as needed.  

There is also limited guardianship which allows the probate court to appoint a guardian for over the part of the person’s life where the person is incompetent and has a need. Examples of this would be guardianship over only medical decisions, only the placement of the person, or only over behavioral plans. This is the most favored type of guardianship and is utilized when possible.    


If you need help filing for or defending against a guardianship petition, please reach out to us. Our guardianship attorneys offer high level experience for our contested and uncontested guardianship clients. To request a consultation with an O’Flaherty Law Indiana Guardianship Lawyer, call our office at (630) 324-6666, or you can also fill out our confidential contact form, and we will get back to you shortly.  

August 31, 2022
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