According to Ohio law, a Guardian is someone who is appointed by the probate court to be responsible for the care and management of another person, and/or their estate (this person is called the “Ward”). There are two types of individuals for whom a Guardian can be appointed. The first is a minor (under 18 years old) who either does not have parents, or whose parents are unsuitable to have custody of the child. A Guardian can also be appointed for anyone who is mentally impaired to such a degree that they are incapable of taking care of themselves and/or their property, and any other persons they are legally responsible for (such as minor children).
Types of Guardianships
There are numerous types of Guardianships in Ohio. The most common are Guardianships of the Estate, Guardianships of the Person, and Guardianships of Person and Estate. When a guardianship is only for the estate, the guardian generally only has the authority to make financial decisions for the ward. In a guardianship for the person, the guardian can make decisions regarding the day-to-day living of the ward (regarding things like medical care, living arrangements, education, recreation, etc.) but does not have the authority to make financial decisions on behalf of the ward. In a Guardianship of Person and Estate, the Guardian has the authority to handle both personal and financial matters. A Limited Guardianship can also be established, where the Guardian has authority only over a certain area (or areas) of the Ward’s affairs.
Guardianship Process in Ohio
The Ohio Probate court is responsible for choosing and appointing a guardian. Under Ohio guardianship law, a minor who is over the age of 14 can suggest a guardian for his or herself. Additionally, parents who are deceased may establish a guardian for their minor child(ren) in their will, and any adult can nominate a guardian to serve on their behalf in the event they become incapacitated.
The first step for getting a guardianship established in Ohio is for an application to be completed at the probate court in the county where the ward resides. The prospective ward and any next of kin will then be notified, and the court will set a date for a hearing on the matter. If the prospective ward is allegedly incompetent, a Court Investigator will conduct an investigation, including an interview with the prospective ward. At the hearing, the court will decide whether or not to establish the guardianship.
Terminating a Guardianship
If the ward dies, is determined to be competent, or a minor child turns 18, the court will issue an order ending the guardianship. Under Ohio law, a Motion for Termination of a Guardianship for an incompetent ward can be filed 120 days after the date the guardian was appointed, and then once a year thereafter.
Alternatives to Guardianship
A durable power of attorney allows you to personally appoint somebody to handle your medical or financial affairs. This is a less drastic alternative to a guardianship in that it allows you to continue to control your day-to-day activities until you are no longer able. It also puts you in a position to nominate a caretaker should a guardianship ever become necessary. You are free to change your mind as to who this individual is while you are still mentally competent to do so.
Providing Estate Planning Assistance
At Brissie Law Offices, we also assist our clients with estate palnning needs such as wills, living wills and trusts. Attorney William Brissie understands how difficult facing some of these end of life decisions can be. We work closely with you for a positive result. For a free initial consultation, please give us a call.