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The Next Steps to a Guardianship Once Your Child Turns 18 

Gregory, L. Williams, Jr., Esq., Partner. Dec. 28, 2022

In Ohio, the probate court may appoint a legal guardian for a minor child or incapacitated adult who needs help managing their personal and financial affairs. Generally, guardianship for a minor will automatically terminate once the child turns 18 years or as ordered by the court. However, depending on the surrounding circumstances, the legal guardian may be eligible to request guardianship to continue even after the child becomes an adult. 

I’m dedicated to offering experienced legal services and comprehensive guidance to clients in estate planning and guardianship-related matters. My team of knowledgeable Ohio estate planning attorneys can enlighten you about how to continue guardianship once your ward turns 18 years and guide you through the legal processes involved. Our firm is proud to serve clients across Columbus, Ohio, and surrounding areas throughout Central Ohio. 

Understanding Guardianship 

Guardianship is a legal arrangement whereby the probate court appoints a person (a legal guardian) for a minor child or an incompetent adult who cannot care for themselves or manage their financial affairs. In Ohio, the guardian appointed by the probate court will have the legal authority and duty to make decisions about the personal affairs, medical care, housing, and financial matters of the ward or protected person. 

What Happens When the Child Turns 18?  

Generally, when the minor child turns 18 years of age, guardianship will end. According to Ohio laws, guardianship for a minor child terminates once the minor attains the age of 18 or when otherwise ordered by the probate court. However, there are certain situations where guardianship may need to continue. 

In What Circumstances Should Guardianship Continue?  

Guardianship may continue for an older child under the following circumstances: 

  • The ward still remains incompetent—physically or mentally impaired. 

  • The child lacks the capacity to make decisions about personal and financial matters. 

A skilled lawyer can enlighten you about the process of seeking continued guardianship and help you navigate key decisions. 

The Process of Continued Guardianship 

Here are the steps involved in seeking continued guardianship in Ohio after a child turns 18:  

Determination of Incompetence 

In order to obtain continued guardianship in Ohio, the probate court must first certify that the person is incompetent or lacks the capacity to make informed decisions about their personal affairs and finances. Determining incompetency may require a comprehensive medical evaluation. 

The physician must attest, through an affidavit or written statement under oath, that the person’s level of reasons or ability to make decisions makes them incompetent, and guardianship should be continued. Also, there must be a medical diagnosis and prognosis to validate the claim of incompetency. 

The Hearing 

A hearing will be scheduled where both the ward and the applicant for legal guardian will appear in front of a judge. During the hearing for continued guardianship, the court will listen to testimonies from interested parties. The court will also allow the proposed ward to voice their opinion. The judge will evaluate any available evidence, investigations, and arguments before making a decision. 

The Decision 

Once the judge or probate court has evaluated the reports, testimonies, and statements from interested parties, they will make a decision on whether continued guardianship is necessary. The court will also determine if the guardianship applicant is suitable to serve as the protected person’s legal guardian. 

Appointment of Guardian 

If the probate court determines that the person needs a guardian, an order will be issued. The legal guardian’s name will appear in the order. To confirm their appointment, the legal guardian will: 

  • Take the Oath of Guardian from the court 

  • Receive Letters of Guardianship from the court 

If you’ve been appointed as a guardian to an incapacitated loved one, an experienced Ohio guardianship attorney can enlighten you about your roles and responsibilities and help you perform these duties diligently. 

Trusted Guidance When You Need It Most 

Legal guardians of minors are tasked with the responsibility of caring for them and helping them make decisions about their finances and legal affairs. However, in case the minor is still incompetent—even after turning 18 years—continued guardianship may be in their best interests. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you explore your possible legal options and determine the best course of action. 

I’m committed to advising and guiding clients through the complexities involved in seeking continued guardianship. As your attorney, I can evaluate your unique situation and determine if continued guardianship is in the ward’s best interests. My legal team will help file your petition, guide you through the legal processes involved, and represent you intelligently at the guardianship hearing. 

Contact me today to schedule a simple consultation with seasoned guardianship attorneys. My team and I proudly serve clients across Columbus, Ohio, and surrounding areas throughout Central Ohio.