Guardianship Attorney

Serving South Bend, Elkhart, Mishawaka, Osceola & The Counties of St. Joseph, Elkhart, Marshall & LaPorte

There are many responsibilities we have when caring for others, and often, there are numerous legal challenges families face as they care for children, parents, or other close relations. Having an experienced Indiana guardianship lawyer working with you and your family can help you easily secure guardianship of a child or incapacitated adult. The legal processes involved in protecting the property of a family member in need can be complicated for anyone, and knowledgeable legal counsel can make sure that the legal system allows for you to provide as much as possible for your family.

Indiana law allows for the courts to establish terms of guardianships for both minors and incapacitated adults. These laws also allow for all of the property of these minors or incapacitated adults to fall under the care of a guardian who is legally known as a fiduciary. A fiduciary is someone who must make decisions aimed at the best interests of those for whom they are caring. Indiana courts generally identify the child or incapacitated adult who needs a guardian as a ward or simply as the protected person. State law is meant to give the courts the flexibility to enact what is best for the current and future care that the protected person needs.

Guardianship Legal Process in Indiana

Indiana law strongly reflects the belief that a child should be with their parents whenever possible. However, there is a legal process that has been established to transfer the child’s guardianship to another adult if this is determined to be in the best interest of the child. If you are to gain guardianship of a child, it must be clearly shown that their biological parents are unable to provide acceptable care. While many court-appointed child guardians are the grandparents or other relatives of the protected person, it is possible to be appointed the guardian of a child who is not a close relation.

Your guardianship lawyer can join you at a court hearing where it will be determined if you are to be granted guardianship of the child in question. Of the many things that are considered by the court in making its decision, some of them include:

  • Your background and well-being
  • Whether the biological parent has abandoned the child
  • Conditions at the child’s current home
  • If the biological parent is in prison
  • If the child’s home currently allows for healthy emotional and physical development

Establishing Adult Guardianship

You may have a close adult family member that needs consistent care. This person could be someone, such as your parent or adult child. There are many reasons why you may need to establish a formal court-appointed guardianship over an adult family member. Indiana law allows for the courts to grant adult guardianship when it is found that the person is unable to make or execute proper decisions regarding their health or property. However, it can be challenging to establish adult guardianship in cases where the person in question does not want a guardian. At the Cole Law Firm LLC, we can not only prepare your guardianship petition, but they can also represent you before the court.

Guardianship proceedings in Indiana generally look to an already established power of attorney when seeking to name a guardian for an adult. If no one is currently a legitimate power of attorney for the person in need, then the courts will look to the person’s spouse followed by the children. If no close relation is capable and willing to serve as a guardian, the court can appoint an independent person, such as a close friend or work associate, to be the guardian of the person’s health concerns or property.

Guardian Benefits & Duties

Seeking to be appointed the guardian of a child or adult can be stressful for you and your family. You are understandably concerned for the person’s well-being, and the person in need can make the process more difficult if they are an adult and do not want guardianship formally established. However, there are many benefits to being appointed a loved one’s guardian,

such as:

  • The ability to enroll them in school and to make proper medical decisions
  • Take control of their property and protect it from others who do not have the person’s best interests in mind
  • Receive financial benefits, such as social security or pension payments, that are meant to help the person in need

Indiana law requires that a legally appointed guardian regularly reports to the court about the person in need’s finances and property. After you are appointed as guardian, you have 90 days to file a statement detailing all of the assets of the person whom you are helping. Plus, you must submit financial reports every two years detailing changes to the person’s finances. Court ordered reports such as these are not necessary for power of attorney appointments.

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