Guardianships

VLP GUARDIANSHIP SERVICE ELIGIBLITY

Financial Eligibility: The VLP Guardianship Services provides free legal services to financially eligible low-income families in need of a court-appointed guardian.

Client Eligibility: Persons diagnosed with a developmental disability, autism spectrum disorder, mental illness, mental impairment and/or traumatic brain injury or Alzheimer’s are eligible for this program. Clients are accepted into this program if they live in a supervised residential setting or live with their family.

Legal Requirements for Being a Guardian: Anyone who is at least 18 years of age, mentally competent and has not been convicted of a felony may serve as a guardian.

Questions & Answers

My child has special needs and will turn 18 soon. Will I need to be appointed guardian?

Possibly, but each guardianship case is unique. Once your child turns 18, you may no longer have legal authority to act on behalf of the child. The Court may grant your authority to act on behalf of your child.

What is the procedure for being appointed as guardian for my child or an adult in need of a guardian?
  • A petition is filed with the Court in the county in which the child or adult resides.
  • The Court will set a hearing to hear evidence and determine if the child or adult is incapacitated, whether a guardian is necessary, and whether the proposed guardian is qualified.
  • The Court requires that the child or adult, both parents and other interested family members be notified of the hearing.
  • A guardian ad litem (for this case) will be appointed to represent the child or adult in Court.
  • The Court will generally require a written statement from a physician attesting to the incapacity of the child or adult.
How long does the process take to be appointed guardian?

The process may take up to 45 (forty five) days after the Volunteer Lawyer Program receives the information required to prepare the necessary court documents.

When should I begin the process for my child?

Generally, the Court will hear guardianship cases for minor children no more than two to three months prior to their 18th birthday.

What will my duties be as a legal guardian?

This will vary depending on the circumstances of each case taking into consideration the condition of the adult or child. Generally, some general guidelines include:

  • Work with physicians and other medical practitioners to make medical decisions on behalf of the person for whom you serve as legal guardian.
  • Work with school personnel to make decisions on your child’s academic, social and behavioral progress.
  • You may wish to work with the Social Security Administration or other agencies to access or verify benefits on behalf of the protected person.
What is the cost to file for guardianship through the VLP?

If you qualify for the Volunteer Lawyer Program, the filing fee is generally waived by the Court. Attorneys’ fee are also waived for qualifying individuals. A $25.00 processing fee is payable to the Volunteer Lawyer Program.

If I am interested in applying for guardianship for my child or an incapacitated adult family member or friend what should I do next?

Your first step is to contact the VLP Guardianship Coordinator. Call (260) 407-0917 Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., or you may send a message directly to the Guardianship Coordinator here.