Bill extending adult guardians’ disposition authority signed into law

Adult guardians will soon be part of the statutory scheme for making decisions about disposition of a deceased ward after Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a bill extending their authority.

Under Senate Enrolled Act 276 — which Holcomb signed Thursday — adult guardians may now make decisions about a ward’s final disposition if no family members or powers of attorney are available to make those decisions.

The legislation was the brainchild of the WINGS Adult Guardianship State Task Force, which presented the concept last fall to the Indiana Probate Code Study Commission. Becky Pryor, a longtime guardian and guardianship advocate, said the need to give guardians this decision-making authority became more pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic, which had a pronounced effect on the elderly and those in nursing homes.

Pryor worked with Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, to write the bill, and the original language would have placed guardians above powers of attorney and family members on the statutory list of disposition decision-makers, founds in Chapters 23 and 29 of Indiana Code. However, Lanane agreed to amend the bill to move guardians lower on the list after sharp debate in the Senate.

The legislation had the support of the Indiana Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the WINGS Task Force and the AARP.

SEA 276 will take effect July 1.

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