In re Guardianship of Hollenga
Indiana Court of Appeals
852 N.E.2d 933 (2006)
Dorothy Hollenga was an elderly, childless widow. Dorothy’s neighbor, Daniel Cook (plaintiff), helped Hollenga manage her household tasks and kept her company at her request. Cook also helped Hollenga discover that the financial advisor she had appointed to hold her power of attorney was stealing her money. Shortly after, Gene Harris, Greg Stewart, and Janet Becker (the estate guardians) (defendants) petitioned to be appointed as guardians to manage Hollenga’s estate. The court appointed a guardian ad litem (GAL) to investigate. Hollenga opposed the guardianship petition and executed a new durable power of attorney naming Cook as her agent, which would come into effect only upon Hollenga’s future incapacitation. The estate guardians then filed a petition to set aside the power of attorney. At a hearing, Edward Kennedy, the attorney who prepared the new power of attorney, testified that Hollenga was competent when she executed it. After the GAL filed his report, the trial court (1) denied the estate guardians’ petition to set aside the power of attorney naming Cook as Hollenga’s agent; and (2) appointed the estate guardians as co-guardians of Hollenga’s estate, holding that Hollenga was unable to manage her financial affairs and that she was vulnerable to undue influence. Approximately one year later, Hollenga’s doctors determined that she was incapacitated, which triggered Hollenga’s durable power of attorney. The estate guardians then filed another petition to set aside the power of attorney. At a hearing on the new petition, the estate guardians and the GAL argued that Cook would use the power of attorney to steal Hollenga’s money. Without disqualifying Cook as Hollenga’s agent or finding that the estate guardians had shown good cause for Cook’s removal as agent, the trial court ordered the estate guardians to disregard the power of attorney. Cook appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Bailey, J.)
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