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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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  • Co-Guardianship of Special Need Sibling
    Do I have to hire an attorney to get co-guardianship of my brother? My father has guardianship and my older sister was his co-guardian until this Dec 2014 when she passed and my father was me to go on as the co-guardian, but funds are limit and we need to get this process taken care of quickly as our fathers health isn't the greatest. So please advise me if there is anyway to do this our self or if it requires a lawyer? Thank you
  • Temporary Guardianship
    My mother got temporary guardianship of my children in 2012. my husband and I got divorced 2015 the judge ordered me to have full custody of all my children. Does this mean the temporary guardianship is over? I'm confused because my divorce papers say I have custody and he gets visits and i get to claim the kids every year on my taxes. So just wondered since I have in black and white that I have custody if I can go get my kids from my moms and not go to jail?
  • 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. Applause, applause, applause ..... but, is this duty to serve the constitutional order not much more incumbent upon the State, whose only aim is to be pure and unadulterated justice, than defense counsel, who is also charged with gaining a result for a client? I agree both are responsible, but it seems to me that the government attorneys bear a burden much heavier than defense counsel .... "“I note, much as we did in Mechling v. State, 16 N.E.3d 1015 (Ind. Ct. App. 2014), trans. denied, that the attorneys representing the State and the defendant are both officers of the court and have a responsibility to correct any obvious errors at the time they are committed."

  2. Do I have to hire an attorney to get co-guardianship of my brother? My father has guardianship and my older sister was his co-guardian until this Dec 2014 when she passed and my father was me to go on as the co-guardian, but funds are limit and we need to get this process taken care of quickly as our fathers health isn't the greatest. So please advise me if there is anyway to do this our self or if it requires a lawyer? Thank you

  3. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  4. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  5. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

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