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Do I have to get a guardian for my adult child with disability?

On Behalf of | Apr 21, 2024 | Disability For Children/Adult Children

In Indiana, all adults, including those with disabilities, have the right to make their own decisions and manage their own affairs to the fullest extent possible, regardless of whether they have a disability. 

However, in certain circumstances where an individual may lack the capacity to make informed decisions, a guardian may be appointed to assist with decision-making, but this is typically determined on a case-by-case basis through legal proceedings. These circumstances may include:

  • Mental illness and insanity
  • Intellectual or developmental disability
  • Physical illness
  • Incarceration

In these cases, you file a petition with the court requesting the appointment of a guardian, who will then be tasked with making decisions on behalf of the individual with disabilities in areas where they are unable to make informed choices independently.

What are the alternatives to guardianship?

Where guardianship is not deemed necessary in Indiana, there are several alternatives including the following:

  • Limited guardianship: This allows for the appointment of a guardian who is tasked with making decisions only in specific areas where the individual with disabilities is unable to make informed choices independently while still allowing them to retain decision-making authority in other areas of their life.
  • Supported decision-making: In this alternative, the individual with disabilities is supported by a network of trusted individuals such as family members, friends or professionals, who assist them in understanding information, communicating their preferences and making decisions. Rather than appointing a guardian with decision-making authority, supported decision-making empowers the individual to maintain control over their own affairs with the assistance of their support network.
  • Healthcare representative: This alternative allows the individual to choose someone to make healthcare decisions on their behalf if they become unable to do so themselves. Unlike guardianship, where decision-making authority may extend beyond healthcare matters, a healthcare representative is specifically designated to make medical decisions based on the individual’s wishes and best interests.

Before making a decision on guardianship for your adult child with disability in Indiana, consider seeking legal guidance to help ensure you understand the full range of options available and can make an informed decision that best serves your child’s needs and respects their rights and autonomy.