Below are the most common questions we receive about Scout, Pathfinder Guardianship Services, and Cavalry Advocacy Services.
However, if you do not see your question listed here, don’t hesitate to contact us.
General Information About Advocacy and Guardianship
Whether an advocate is appointed by a court or serves under a health care declaration and/or power of attorney, their function is the same: To act as a protector for you and your interests.
When it comes to health care advocacy, this role requires the advocate to make decisions that honor your value system and that are in your best interest. This role requires proper navigation of an increasingly complex health care system. Often, advocates will identify the best care options, persuade health care providers to do right by you, and sometimes work to hold that system accountable for your proper care.
When it comes to the management of your income and assets, an advocate must provide careful financial management to ensure that your needs are met. This requires knowledge of applicable insurance coverage, government benefits, and other outside sources that may lower your health care costs.
A Power of Attorney (POA) and Health Care Declaration (HCD) are documents that can be executed by any competent adult.
Both are voluntary documents that appoint someone of your choosing to serve as your agent to make financial and health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself.
Contrast that with a guardian, which is someone appointed by a court to be the decision-maker for an adult who has already become incapacitated and is unable to execute a POA or HCD.
Guardians and agents serving under a POA and HCD are fiduciaries under Indiana law.
There really is no difference. Both involve naming an agent to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself. In Indiana, our Health Care Consent Law (Title 16), and our Power of Attorney Law (Title 30) both have similar provisions for essentially the same thing.
A guardian is in charge of making decisions for a person who no longer has mental capacity to make decisions for themselves. The guardian is not a caregiver, however, some family members serve as both guardian and caregiver. A guardian must ensure that the protected person receives appropriate care and/or that the person’s finances are managed appropriately.
Guardians are only appointed by the court. A person must receive a court order appointing him or her as guardian over another person. However, anyone may petition the court to become guardian, including family and friends.
Scout is asked to serve as guardian when there is no family or friend available to serve, when family members prefer the services of a professional guardian for their loved one, or sometimes when family members cannot agree who among them should serve
There is no single government agency that oversees the quality of guardianship services. The court appointing the guardian does have continuing jurisdiction to police the quality of the guardian’s work, however many courts in Indiana do not have the resources to provide meaningful supervision.
There are two options to consider.
First, if you believe that the guardian is endangering the protected person, or exploiting their funds, you should contact Indiana Adult Protective Services (APS). Indiana has a statewide toll-free number you may call for APS, which is 1-800-992-6978. APS will investigate the concern and could take appropriate actions.
Second, you could write a letter explaining your concerns to the court that has supervision over the guardianship. If you do so, you should always include the “cause number” associated with the guardianship so the court knows what case you are referring to. (The cause number is found on any of the court documents in the guardianship. If you are not sure of the cause number, you may be able to locate the case through a name search by going to www.mycase.in.gov. ) While there is no guarantee the court will act upon your complaint, the court could set the matter for a hearing, or appoint a guardian ad litem, to investigate your complaints.
A guardian’s job is to ensure that the protected person is receiving adequate care and that the person’s finances are protected and well-managed. The guardian should ensure that the protected person is living in an appropriate care setting and receiving the services needed, all in the least restrictive environment possible, given the needs of the individual. The person’s finances should be handled in a competent manner in order to pay for the person’s needs while also preserving money for the future.
Scout strives to meet the standards of practice set forth by the National Guardianship Association and the Indiana State Guardianship Association.
Red flags may include:
- An unwillingness to share information
- An attempt to hide or isolate the protected person from family and friends when there’s not a justifiable reason for doing so
- Any clues that the guardian is using the protected person’s assets for their own personal use
The term “professional guardian” describes a court-appointed guardian who is unrelated to the protected person and who either provides such services for a fee approved by the court, or who works for a non-profit agency that may not charge a fee, but which is considered experienced in the role of a guardian.
A guardian is needed when a person is unable to make decisions for themselves and there is no one else that has such authority (healthcare representative or durable power of attorney).
A guardianship may also be appropriate if an individual is being exploited by a family member or friend, or simply when the structure and oversight of a court would be beneficial to the protected person or their agent.
Any interested party may petition the Court to become a guardian, so long as they are an adult and have not been convicted of certain types of felonies.
An attorney is needed to initiate guardianship proceedings. Seek the counsel of an experienced elder law attorney in your county that routinely does guardianship work. One way to find an elder law attorney is to check listings by the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. The Indiana State Guardianship Association also has a listing of attorneys who work in the field of guardianship law.
Information About Scout
A variety of circumstances can arise that call for the services of an independent, professional guardian. Sometimes an incapacitated adult’s family may not agree who among them should serve as guardian and decide that an independent professional guardian is best. Other times, family members may have no disagreements, but because of their own busy lives and lack of expertise decide that an independent, professional guardian is best.
There are other times when incapacitated adults simply have no one able to serve as guardian. In such cases, a court may choose a professional guardian to meet that adult’s needs.
There are a number of individuals serving as court-appointed guardians or health care representatives and power of attorney for incapacitated adults, but the role of advocate is complex. To properly serve your needs, Scout uses a multi-facetted approach.
We think there’s a better way. At Scout, our purpose is to provide a model of professional advocacy services, one that exercises sound judgments for the benefit of our clients. We utilize a high level of interdisciplinary expertise and exhibit trustworthiness and integrity, all while acting in an appropriately transparent fashion. Learn more about our mission >>
No. Under Indiana law, you are always entitled to direct your own health care decisions so long as treating physicians believe you have the capacity to do so. Also, the financial Powers of Attorney we utilize are “springing” in nature, which means that they are only effective when and if your treating physician certifies in writing that you are no longer able to manage your own affairs.
If you regain your capacity (such as after an acute illness) then the powers in the Power of Attorney document end once again.
We provide trusted advocacy while maintaining a high level of transparency. Our team follows the standards of practice adopted by the Indiana State Guardianship Association and the National Guardianship Association.
If Scout is appointed guardian, we will make decisions that are in your or your loved one’s best interest. Depending on the circumstance, we will also do our best to ascertain preferences so we can attempt to make the same decision you or your loved one would have made if this had been possible. Find out more about the Scout way >>
When we receive a referral, we try to gather as much information as possible, including you or your loved one’s:
- Living arrangements
- Financial information
We accept referrals based upon a variety of factors and do not have a strict set of criteria.
We encourage our clients to maintain relationships with their friends and family. And we will do anything we can to ensure those relationships continue, as long as they are in the person’s best interests.
We will make every effort to learn about the needs, wants, and preferences of the person through information gained from family and friends. However, the decision-making authority would be entrusted to Scout, as it would be for any court-appointed guardian.
At Scout, we believe it is critically important to be transparent in our handling of our client’s assets and income. We understand that Powers of Attorney can be (and too often are) abused, whether the Power of Attorney is appointed to a family member or a professional.
Therefore, when we serve as Power of Attorney, we follow accounting methods and requirements similar to those of guardianship. We also call upon the service of outside auditors to review our financial accountings.
We also follow other protocols designed to assure our clients, their families, and ourselves that we are following appropriate money management principles. We take our fiduciary responsibilities very seriously.
Scout will travel to Marion County and surrounding counties to provide client services.
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