Legal Guardianship in Indiana

by Joe Stone

    A legal guardianship in Indiana is used to appoint a guardian to provide for the care of a minor or an adult unable to manage his personal affairs. The person under a guardianship is called a ward or protected person. The guardian is appointed by court order and is always answerable to the court regarding the proper handling of ward's personal affairs and assets.

    Types of Guardianships

    Under Indiana law, a guardian is appointed as one of three types: guardian of the person; guardian of the estate; or guardian of the person and estate. As guardian of the person, the guardian is only responsible for ensuring that the ward’s personal needs are adequately maintained, such as living conditions, day-to-day needs and health care. If the ward is a minor, a guardian of the person is also responsible for overseeing the ward's education. As guardian of the estate, the guardian’s responsibility is limited to managing the ward’s financial affairs, such as investments, bank accounts and real estate. In most cases, the guardian is appointed for both the person and estate and has full responsibility for the personal care and financial affairs of the ward.

    Limited Guardianships

    Indiana law provides for a limited guardianship in certain situations. For example, a guardian ad litem is appointed solely to represent a minor or an incapacitated adult in a specific lawsuit. This type of guardianship terminates when the lawsuit ends. A guardian's powers and duties can also be specifically limited by court order, with the ward retaining all rights not subject to the court's order. In an emergency situation, the court can appoint a temporary guardian for a short time period, not to exceed 60 days. The court must determine that the temporary guardian's appointment is necessary to prevent injury to the ward personally or to his estate.

    Guardian Qualifications

    In Indiana, the court appointing a guardian considers all the people who are qualified and willing to serve as guardian, giving special consideration to certain factors specified by state law. For example, the request of an incapacitated person for a specific individual as guardian will be considered. The request can be stated at the hearing or in any document, such as a power of attorney or will. If a minor is at least 14 years of age, the court will consider the minor's request. The court is also to consider the relationship of the proposed guardian to the incapacitated person or minor, including whether the proposed guardian is presently acting under a power of attorney. Whatever is in the best interest of the incapacitated person or minor, as well as the property of the incapacitated person or minor, is also considered.

    Guardian's Reporting Duties

    In addition to the guardian's duties to oversee and care for the ward's personal affairs and property, the guardian also must report to the court. Within 90 days of appointment, the guardian must file an inventory of the ward's real and personal property. The inventory must be filed within 30 days in the case of a temporary guardianship. A guardian's report must be filed two years after appointment and every two years thereafter. The report must include such information as any changes in the ward's health or assets and indicate whether the guardianship should continue. The court where the guardianship was established provides forms for use in preparing these biennial reports.

    About the Author

    Joe Stone is a freelance writer in California who has been writing professionally since 2005. His articles have been published on LIVESTRONG.COM, SFgate.com and Chron.com. He also has experience in background investigations and spent almost two decades in legal practice. Stone received his law degree from Southwestern University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from California State University, Los Angeles.

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