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What is an adult guardianship?

| Jul 26, 2022 | Firm News

Parents lose the ability to make decisions and act on behalf of a child with special needs after the child is 18 years old. With court approval, however, parents may establish a guardianship to continue to assist their child and assure that their financial and daily needs are met.


In Indiana, adult guardianships authorize a guardian to provide or supervise an incapacitated person’s, identified as a ward or protected person, care. Guardianship powers and duties also include assuring that the ward’s property, finances, and assets are effectively managed and preserved. Guardians are required to keep the court informed of these matters.

Other powers typically include the authority to enter into contracts, consent to medical care, deciding where the ward may live, finance management and whether the ward may marry.


Indiana courts will restrict guardianship duties if it is in the interest of the protected person and limitations will encourage their independence, self-improvement, and self-reliance. Guardianship powers may be restricted by time, scope of authority and the areas where decisions may be made.

Adult wards under guardianship possess certain rights in Indiana unless a court takes them away:

  • Voting.
  • Challenging or seeking to end the guardianship.
  • Requesting that the court appoint another guardian.
  • Visiting friends and family.

Changing or termination

A guardianship usually remains in place for the life of the protected person. Under Indiana law, however, a guardianship must be terminated when the protect person dies, or if a court finds that the ward is no longer incapacitated.  Courts may also terminate a guardianship if it is no longer necessary.

A petition must be filed if a party seeks modification or termination. Usually, a hearing is held for the parties’ presentation of testimony and other evidence. A court also must approve a guardian’s resignation before it takes effect.


Options other than guardianships may be appropriate for some individuals and their limitations. These include supports such as:

  • Informal supports.
  • Agreements
  • Authorizations for sharing information.
  • Team-based decision making.
  • Powers of attorney.
  • Healthcare representatives.
  • Educational surrogates.
  • Living wills and other healthcare directives.
  • Orders of protection.

Attorneys can help parents develop a plan that meets their child’s needs. They can also draft documents that comply with Indiana legal requirements and carry though these plans.