A Ward By Any Other Name

Some years back (1980’s?) the Indiana guardianship code was changed to eliminate references to “wards” and replace that term with “protected persons.” (By the way, they didn’t capture all the references to “ward” and the word still appears in many sections of the code.)

While I don’t know the whole reasoning for the change, I think it was felt that the term “ward” was demeaning.

But the alternatives can get confusing and exhausting to use. They include “alleged incapacitated person” (what Indiana law calls the ward before they become a ward) and “protected person” (what Indiana law calls the ward after they become a ward) and “incapacitated person” (what Indiana law calls the ward when it forgets to call them “protected person”). More recently, some organizations and professionals are preferring use of the term “person under guardianship” rather than “protected person” or “ward”.

All these alternatives to the term “ward” are meant to be more dignified, which I can appreciate, but come on. Besides, I would never call an actual person “ward.” Rather, I would call them, “Ms. Johnson” or “Sally.”

About H. Kennard Bennett

Ken Bennett is a partner in the elder law firm of Bennett & McClammer and is Founder & Team Leader at Scout Guardianship Services. He also founded and serves as Executive Director and Senior Counsel to the Center for At-Risk Elders, Inc., a public interest law firm that, among other things, operates the CARE Volunteer Advocates Program, providing guardianship services to low-income, unbefriended, incapacitated adults.

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