It can feel overwhelming when a loved one cannot care for themselves or safely handle the activities of daily living, especially when the loved one rejects offers of help. This can be the result of:
- medical conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s
- serious mental illness,
- serious injury, such as head trauma,
- drug addiction, or
- life-long conditions that impair cognitive function, such as Down Syndrome.
In these circumstances, a Probate Court can assign legal authority make decisions on behalf of the impaired person (called the “Ward”) to a “Guardian.” The Guardian makes decisions concerning the Ward’s housing, healthcare, and other lifestyle needs. The Guardian may also manage the Ward’s property and finances.
Indiana recognizes and honors the rights of parents to raise their children in the way that they see fit. But sometimes a child doesn’t have parents who provide for his or her care and safety. This can be the case when the child’s parents are:
- addicted to drugs,
- mentally ill,
- cognitively impaired, or
- seriously disabled in a way that prevents childcare.
When reliance on parental care endangers the child’s mental or physical health, the Court can assign legal power for the child’s upbringing to a non- parent Guardian. The Guardian acts much like a parent and is responsible for the child’s basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, education, and medical care. A Guardian may also be appointed to manage the child’s property and financial affairs.
Guardianships can also assign responsibility for a child’s property when an underage minor receives a significant sum of money. This is typically needed when a child inherits funds, is the beneficiary of life insurance, or receives proceeds from a lawsuit.