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Appointment and responsibilities of guardians

In the absence of children having a parent present and responsible for their care and to make legal decisions for them, a guardian may be appointed to handle that daunting task.

There are two types of guardians, those appointed by a judge and those selected by the family. In either case, the minor child is referred to by the state as a "ward" of the guardian.

The selection of a guardian for children takes into account what is in their best interest. Whenever possible, judges prefer to see that the children selected their guardians themselves. At age 14, most states allow minors to voice their preference as to who they want to be their guardians.

Guardians can be relatives or another parent, state employees or private citizens with whom the wards feel comfortable.

In some cases, the parents of the children are still living but were deemed unfit to make legal decisions for their children. One piece of evidence that can be used to show a parent's lack of fitness is proof that the child was removed by the state from the parent's care.

Among the roles and responsibilities of guardians, they are charged with maintaining both the physical and mental well-being of their wards. They are also responsible for managing their estates, including providing them legal residences so that they can readily attend public schools and apply for public housing or other assistance, if necessary.

Guardians are also responsible for bringing lawsuits on their wards' behalf, if necessary. Guardians are responsible for making medical decisions for the children as well.

A guardianship can only be terminated if the ward dies, marries, reaches the age of majority, or in cases where it can be shown that the guardian failed to uphold the aforementioned responsibilities. In the case of the latter, a new guardian can be appointed for the ward.

Justifying a case for guardianship requires significant work to establish how that choice is in the child's best interests. Indianapolis estate planning attorneys are familiar with what is necessary to ensure a case is as airtight as possible.

Source: FindLaw, "Guardianship of Minors," accessed May 05, 2017

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