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IBA: Indiana Legislature Passes New Guardianship Laws

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By Rebecca Geyer, Hollingsworth & Zivitz, PC
 

Rebecca Geyer Geyer

The Indiana legislature passed several new guardianship laws in the 2011 legislative session which impact guardianships of minor children and incapacitated adults. Effective July 1, 2011, Indiana’s new standby guardianship statute (Ind. Code Sec. 29-3-3-7) allows the parent of a minor or the guardian of a protected person to designate a standby guardian for the minor or protected person in a written declaration. An alternate standby guardian may also be named in the declaration. The designated standby guardian begins serving as guardian of the minor or protected person upon the death or incapacity of the parent or guardian. The statute is intended to ensure that a minor or protected person has a legal guardian in place until a petition for guardianship of the minor or protected person can be heard following the parent’s or guardian’s death. The standby guardian’s authority terminates ninety (90) days after it becomes effective; however, if the designated standby guardian files a petition for a guardianship of the minor or protected person during that ninety (90) day period, the authority of the standby guardian remains in effect until the court rules on the petition. This new legislation could have interesting effects, especially for the children of divorced couples. The custodial parent of a minor child could utilize the new statute to appoint someone other than the child’s other parent as legal guardian should he or she become incapacitated or die, and this authority would remain in effect for at least ninety (90) days or until a court decides who should have legal guardianship over the minor child should the standby guardian petition for guardianship.

The Indiana legislature also passed the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act. The Act is designed to address the issue of which state has jurisdiction over guardianship proceedings for a protected person. The issue has become increasingly common as our population ages and individuals reside or own property in more than one state. Imagine a couple who reside in Florida but rents property in Indiana each summer to be near their family. Soon after arriving in Indiana, Husband becomes seriously ill and family members must petition for guardianship in order to handle his personal and financial affairs. Which state should have jurisdiction over the guardianship proceedings – Indiana or Florida? Previous Indiana law gave Indiana courts jurisdiction over the guardianship proceedings because Husband is physically residing here despite having his permanent home in Florida. The Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act is designed to address these issues. Indiana is one of about 20 states to adopt the uniform changes which create more uniform guardianship laws throughout the country and reduce conflicts between the states.

Under the new Uniform Act, a Court would have jurisdiction over an adult guardianship matter only if it passes certain tests. The first test in determining jurisdiction is the “home state” test. A Court has jurisdiction over an alleged incapacitated person if it is the individual’s home state, meaning that the person was physically present in that state (including any period of temporary absence) for at least six (6) consecutive months before the filing of the petition for guardianship or protective order. If the home state test is met, the Court has jurisdiction. If the “six (6) consecutive months before filing requirement” does not apply, there can still be a home state if the respondent was physically present in that state (including any period of temporary absence) for at least six (6) consecutive months ending anywhere within the period defined by the six (6) months before filing.

The Uniform Act also contains provisions concerning what happens when there are two simultaneous guardianship petitions in different states. If a court has yet to issue a final ruling, it is required to stay its proceedings and communicate with the other state’s court. One state may be required to dismiss the proceedings filed in its court if the other state is determined to be the more appropriate forum. If a court follows the new rules and makes a guardianship appointment before hearing any objection or before learning of the filing in another state, it would keep jurisdiction. Once a court has entered a final order consistent with the new law, that court keeps jurisdiction unless the case is transferred.

The new Uniform Act also sets up procedures for states to cooperate with each other regarding the transfer of guardianship cases. Under previous law, if a protected person moved to another state an entirely new guardianship proceeding would have to be brought in that state. Under the new Uniform Act, there is a procedure for cooperation between the states and the guardianship can be moved without re-litigating the incapacity of the protected person or the choice of guardian. The new rules also allow a guardianship in one state to be registered in another state. Following registration, the guardian has full power to act in the new state as if he or she were in the original state of jurisdiction.

Indiana’s temporary guardianship laws were also amended. Ind. Code Sec. 29-3-3-4 now extends the authority of a temporary guardian from sixty (60) days to ninety (90) days. The statute also updates the notice requirements for temporary guardianship to ensure that a copy of the petition for temporary guardianship, the court’s order setting a hearing on the petition for temporary guardianship, and the notice required by Ind. Code Sec. 29-3-6-2 are served on every person entitled to receive notice under statute and on each additional person to whom the court directs that notice be given on the earlier of the date a hearing is scheduled or when the court enters an order appointing a temporary guardian. The new statute is designed to ensure that petitioners make every effort to provide advance notice to all interested persons prior to the appointment of a temporary guardian or to at least explain the reasons why advance notice cannot or should not be given in compliance with Trial Rule 65.•

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  • permanent guardianship
    My husban and I have permanent guardianship of our 6 year old grandson,and the mother has lost her parenting time with him,and now the mother is trying to terminate this,we have had him for over a year in a half.

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  1. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  2. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  3. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

  4. Duncan, It's called the RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION and in the old days people believed it did apply to contracts and employment. Then along came title vii.....that aside, I believe that I am free to work or not work for whomever I like regardless: I don't need a law to tell me I'm free. The day I really am compelled to ignore all the facts of social reality in my associations and I blithely go along with it, I'll be a slave of the state. That day is not today......... in the meantime this proposed bill would probably be violative of 18 usc sec 1981 that prohibits discrimination in contracts... a law violated regularly because who could ever really expect to enforce it along the millions of contracts made in the marketplace daily? Some of these so-called civil rights laws are unenforceable and unjust Utopian Social Engineering. Forcing people to love each other will never work.

  5. I am the father of a sweet little one-year-old named girl, who happens to have Down Syndrome. To anyone who reads this who may be considering the decision to terminate, please know that your child will absolutely light up your life as my daughter has the lives of everyone around her. There is no part of me that condones abortion of a child on the basis that he/she has or might have Down Syndrome. From an intellectual standpoint, however, I question the enforceability of this potential law. As it stands now, the bill reads in relevant part as follows: "A person may not intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion . . . if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome." It includes similarly worded provisions abortion on "any other disability" or based on sex selection. It goes so far as to make the medical provider at least potentially liable for wrongful death. First, how does a medical provider "know" that "the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion SOLELY" because of anything? What if the woman says she just doesn't want the baby - not because of the diagnosis - she just doesn't want him/her? Further, how can the doctor be liable for wrongful death, when a Child Wrongful Death claim belongs to the parents? Is there any circumstance in which the mother's comparative fault will not exceed the doctor's alleged comparative fault, thereby barring the claim? If the State wants to discourage women from aborting their children because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis, I'm all for that. Purporting to ban it with an unenforceable law, however, is not the way to effectuate this policy.

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