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Adult Guardianship and the Right to Communicate

Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid LSC Funded

Adult Wards Have Rights Too

A person under a guardianship is called the ward. The person who makes decisions for the ward is called the guardian.

Kari Kasem is the daughter of Casey Kasem. He was a famous radio DJ on American Top 40. He was also the voice of “Shaggy” in Scooby Doo. Casey Kasem suffered from advanced Parkinson’s disease and was isolated by his guardian.  His guardian refused to allow Kari and her siblings to visit their ailing father.  They were forced to go to court to remove the guardian.  They asked the Court to let them take over control of their father’s care.  Kari and her family were successful and eventually saw their father in his last days.

This “Hollywood” guardianship case helped change Iowa law.  Kari Kasem made the right to visit with a ward her mission and came to Iowa to lobby for a new law. 

The new law started on July 1, 2015.  The new Iowa law says that wards have  the right to "communication, visitation, or interaction with other persons." Under the new law, wards have the right to visits from family members and others they want to see.  This law also helps people who want to visit wards, but are denied by the guardian.  Nursing homes and other care facilities have found themselves caught in the middle.  The new law helps them also.

A guardian can still place some reasonable restrictions on communication and visitation with others.  The guardian has to get a court order to deny all communication and visitation.

What if wards are unable tosay that they want someone to visit?  The guardian should assume that the ward wants to have contact with the visitor, if the ward had a relationship with the visitor.

What if the guardian still refuses to allow people to visit a ward? The ward or the visitor can ask a judge to allow the visitation.  The court can deny visitation only if the guardian shows good cause.  

  For legal advice about any specific situation, consult an attorney.  If you have questions about guardianship issues, you may contact    Iowa Legal Aid.

  • Iowa Legal Ai d provides help to low-income Iowans.

  • To apply for help from Iowa Legal Aid:call 800-532-1275. 
  • If Iowa Legal Aid cannot help, look for an attorney on “Find A Lawyer” on the Iowa State Bar Association website iowabar.org.   A private attorney there can talk with you for a fee of $25 for 30 minutes of legal advice.
*As you read this information, remember this article is not a substitute for legal advice. 
Last Review and Update: Aug 28, 2015
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