As an adult child, watching your parent deteriorate physically and/or mentally can be heart-wrenching. If you are lucky, your parent will deteriorate slowly and never completely lose control of his/her faculties. Sometimes, however, a parent’s physical and mental condition reaches a point at which you may need to step in and take control to prevent serious injury or victimization. If you find yourself at that point with your father, it may be time to consider petitioning for guardianship over him. An Indianapolis elder law attorney at Frank & Kraft explains the process for becoming your father’s Guardian.
What Is Adult Guardianship?
When a person reaches legal adulthood (usually at age 18), the law presumes that he/she is capable of making decisions and effectively holds the individual responsible for the consequences of those decisions. Sometimes, however, an adult is not mentally capable of making sound decisions. Sometimes this is because of disability that was present from the time of birth or early childhood. At the other end of the spectrum, many adults lose their decision-making capacity as a result of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s. When that happens, someone may need to step in and make decisions for the individual to prevent injury or victimization. Adult guardianship is the legal term used to describe a relationship wherein one adult is granted the legal authority to make decisions for another adult who has been adjudicated, by a court, to be incapacitated.
Types of Guardianship in Indiana
Because guardianship is considered the most restrictive option available when an adult needs assistance or protection, a court will only appoint a Guardian when other options are insufficient and will only grant a Guardian the authority necessary to protect the estate and/or incapacitated person. The types of guardianship that might be ordered in Indian include:
- Guardian of the Person — appointed by the court when an incapacitated individual cannot make or communicate responsible decisions regarding his personal care. This guardian will make decisions about medical treatment, residential placement, social services and other needs.
- Guardian of the Estate — may be appropriate when an incapacitated person is unable to make or communicate responsible decisions regarding the management of his estate or finances. The guardian will, subject to court supervision, make decisions about the ward’s funds and the safeguarding of the ward’s income or other assets.
- Plenary Guardian – this type of Guardian is both a Guardian of the Person and Guardian of the Estate.
Petitioning for Guardianship of Your Father
If you decide that guardianship is the best option, you will need to petition a court. In your petition, you must explain why a guardianship is necessary and why you should be appointed as the Guardian. Both the proposed ward and close family members must be served with a notice of the petition and given the opportunity to object to the appointment of a Guardian. The court may also appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to interview the Respondent (the disabled person) and report back to the court. A hearing will then be set to determine if a Guardian is needed at which time the judge will decide if a Guardian is warranted and, if so, which type and whether you are qualified to be appointed as Guardian.
Contact an Indianapolis Elder Law Attorney
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about petitioning for guardianship over a parent, or if you are ready to get started with the guardianship process, contact an experienced Indianapolis elder law attorney at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.