Guardianship is a fiduciary relationship in which the probate court grants a person (the guardian) the legal responsibility to care for and manage the personal affairs of a minor child or an incompetent adult (someone who is mentally or physically impaired).
A guardian can be a person, association, or corporation appointed by the court and granted the responsibility for the care and management of a person (incompetent person or minor), an estate, or both. In Ohio, a guardian may be appointed as:
- A guardian of the person
- A guardian of the estate
- A guardian of the person and their estate
Once guardianship is established, the incompetent person or minor child becomes the "ward."
Who Can Be a Guardian?
To be appointed as a guardian in Ohio, the person must:
- Be an adult or over the age of 18
- Be qualified and able to act
- Be suitable and of sound mind
The court may find a potential guardian to be unsuitable if they have a criminal background or bad credit.
What Can a Guardian Do?
The guardian will be responsible for making decisions for the incompetent adult or minor child in a wide range of matters, including:
- Making living arrangements and dietary decisions
- Making healthcare decisions
- Managing financial affairs, including personal and real estate property
- Making important life decisions
- Making decisions that affect the ward's quality of life
- Making regular visits to the ward
- Preventing injury or harm to the ward's person or estate
The guardian of a ward in the state of Ohio is under the authority and jurisdiction of the probate court. All activities or actions of the guardian will be supervised. Guardians are also required to file a report with the probate court annually.
Types of Guardianships
In Ohio, there are three types of guardianships, including:
- Guardianship of the Person: This is usually granted when the individual (minor child or incompetent adult) needs assistance meeting their personal needs.
- Guardianship of the Estate: This may be granted when the incompetent person or minor child only needs help managing their finances and assets.
- Guardianship of the Person and the Estate: This is often granted when the incompetent person or minor child needs assistance with their self-care, as well as managing their assets and finances.
How a Guardian is Appointed
The Ohio guardianship process starts when the person seeking legal authority to manage another person's care or financial affairs files a petition for guardianship in probate court. A person may also be nominated to act on behalf of an incapacitated adult.
The court will conduct a background check on the person who applied or was nominated to determine their suitability for the task. If the court finds the person suitable, a guardian will be appointed only after determining that the alleged ward is mentally or physically impaired.
Once appointed, the guardian will be given a guardianship guide by the probate court or asked to attend an Ohio guardianship training. If you are a guardian, you can always refer to the guardianship guide, the Supreme Court of Ohio, or an experienced guardianship attorney throughout the guardianship process.
Work with a Knowledgeable Attorney
Guardianship plays a large role in the lives of both minor children and incompetent adults. Understanding the legal rights, duties, and responsibilities of a guardian is crucial before appointing or serving as one. It is imperative that you consult with a knowledgeable guardianship law attorney for proper guidance and to help you make informed decisions.
At The Law Office of Gregory L. Williams, I have the experience and resources to assist and guide clients in the legal matters of guardianship. As your legal counsel, I can review the details of your situation and lead you through the guardianship process. I can also educate you about your rights, roles, and responsibilities as a guardian.
Using my extensive legal understanding, I can help you navigate critical decisions. I will outline a detailed checklist to help you accomplish your role as a guardian. Together, we can ensure that the personal care and affairs of your ward are managed correctly and avoid any potential liability.