Indiana provides a method for people to care for individuals who are not their children. These individuals may be minor children or a person who cannot care for themselves because of a physical or mental disability. Indiana’s guardianship statute provides that the court may appoint an individual as guardian over another individual’s person and/or estate. If you are appointed a guardian over another individual’s person, that gives you the ability to determine whether they stay in their home, or are placed in another facility, such as a nursing home. The guardian’s conduct is always required to be in the best interest of the ward just as it would be if you were caring for your child, even though the person may be an adult.
If you are a guardian over the person’s estate, you can handle all of their business affairs, which includes buying and selling real estate and personal property, withdrawing their funds from the bank, paying their bills, and collecting debts that are owed to them. Once again, you are required to only act in the best interest of the individual over whom you are guardian.
Being a guardian is a complicated and difficult task. When the court is involved, it is always best to have an experienced attorney to help guide you through the process to avoid legal pitfalls. At the beginning of the guardianship, you are required to file an inventory with the court setting out all of the assets the individual owns as well as their debt. Periodically, you are then required to file an accounting with the court. If you hire an attorney to help you with the case, they would also help you with this accounting responsibility. The court will provide you with instructions under which you are to operate. These will include such things as making sure that you maintain the funds of the individual in a separate account from your funds. This will also make preparing accounting for the court much easier.
An individual cannot be required to act as a guardian if they do not wish to do so. Therefore, if you are appointed guardian and the factors in your life change, causing it to no longer be feasible, you can petition the court to terminate your guardianship, and the court will do so.
The Law Offices of Steven K. Deig, LLC has helped many people set up guardianships to care for their loved ones. If you are interested in such assistance, please contact our office.