Guardians are normally appointed to protect children after their parents or primary caregivers pass away, but these arrangements can also protect adults who are unable to make their own decisions because of age, injury, illness or substance abuse. Guardians in Indiana must be appointed by a court, and judges can give them guardianship responsibilities on a temporary or permanent basis. When a guardian is appointed temporarily, they are given guardianship responsibilities for 90 days. An incapacitated person protected by a guardianship can petition the court to terminate the arrangement if they recover.
Guardianships of the person
When an adult in Indiana is no longer able to manage their own affairs, the court can appoint a guardian of the person or a guardian of the estate. Judges try to limit the scope of adult guardianships, so they tend to prefer limited guardianships of the person. These arrangements grant guardians specific responsibilities, but they do not give them overall control of the protected individual’s affairs. Limited guardianships of the person often restrict an adult guardian’s responsibilities to making health care decisions and deciding where protected individuals should be treated.
Guardianships of the estate
Guardianships of the estate give adult guardians control over an incapacitated person’s financial and business affairs. These arrangements can also be limited or unlimited, and judges in Indiana can appoint one guardian to handle health care issues and a co-guardian to deal with financial matters. Guardianships of the estate are often used to prevent individuals with developmental issues or special needs from being exploited. In these situations, the parents of a special needs child may be appointed guardians of the estate when the child reaches the age of 18.
Life is unpredictable, and even young and healthy individuals can be left incapacitated by an accident or serious illness. If you would like to take proactive steps make sure that somebody you know and trust is appointed to handle your affairs if this were to happen to you, you could draft powers of attorney that specify the individuals you would like to deal with your health care and financial matters. However, you should be aware that a judge could override your wishes and appoint an adult guardian to protect you.