Who Can Be a Legal Guardian in Ohio?

When a person cannot manage their day-to-day life or their personal or financial affairs, a Guardianship may be necessary. A Guardianship may be required for people under the age of 18, or for people who are incapacitated or otherwise disabled and unable to make decisions regarding their care, finances, or other aspects of their life. Some basics follow on what a guardian is permitted to do and who can be a legal guardian in Ohio.

Guardians Are Appointed by the Probate Court

The probate court in the county where the proposed ward lives has the final say when it comes to appointing a Guardian. However, many people nominate a Guardian in advance, or nominate a Guardian for minor or adult incompetent children. This is often done through a Last Will and Testament. Once the Guardianship Application is submitted, the probate court will consider the nomination, and usually appoints the nominee. However, the probate court might not approve the nominee if the person nominated is unsuitable, or declines to serves as a Guardian. The probate court may find a Guardian to be unsuitable if the person has a criminal background or bad credit.

An Application for Guardianship may be submitted even if the proposed ward does not agree to it. The process involves the following steps:

  • The Guardianship Application
  • A Background and Credit Check of the Proposed Guardian
  • A Statement of Expert Evaluation
  • A Guardianship Hearing

Before being appointed, the Applicant must provide the court with a fiduciary bond equal to double the probable value of the ward’s assets and income. The proposed Guardian must also pass a background check, and have good credit.

An Ohio Guardian Has Significant Control Over the Ward’s Assets

Once approved, a Guardian has significant control over the ward’s assets, including the power to:

  • Pay all debts owed by the ward
  • Collect all money owed to the ward
  • Settle and adjust any assets received by the ward from the executor or administrator of an estate
  • Deposit all funds of the ward into an account in the name of the Guardian as a fiduciary
  • Invest any of the wards funds not needed for current obligations
  • Sell assets for the ward
  • File or defend lawsuits on behalf of the ward, as necessary to protect the ward’s interests.

Because a Guardian exercises significant control over the ward and the ward’s assets, a Guardian is subject to considerable court oversight. Guardians must file an inventory of the ward’s assets and regularly account for how those assets are being used.

Consider Less Restrictive Alternatives to Guardianship

Because Guardianship significantly limits the ward’s freedom, the court must consider less restrictive alternatives to Guardianship. A common alternative is the use of a Power of Attorney.

A Power of Attorney is a powerful legal document that allows one person to act as an agent on behalf of another person, the principal. The agent must follow the directions of the principal and, like a Guardian, must act in good faith and with due diligence with regard to the principal.

Questions About Ohio Guardianship?

If you have questions about Ohio Guardianship, or wonder if a Guardianship might be right for your family, contact Wolfe Legal Services today. The Guardianship Application is complicated, and Ohio recognizes many different types of Guardianship. Therefore, the process that should not be attempted without the assistance of an experienced Ohio guardianship attorney. Likewise, once the Guardianship is established, a Guardian must comply with reporting requirements. If you are considering an Ohio Guardianship, I recommend that you consult with a knowledgeable and experienced Ohio Guardianship attorney.

I have more than 20 years experience as an Ohio Guardianship attorney, and work with people throughout greater Columbus, including Dublin, Bexley, Upper Arlington, New Albany, Marysville, Hilliard, Delaware, and Newark, and throughout Franklin County, Delaware County, Pickaway County, Fairfield County, Union County, and Licking County. Call (614) 263-5297 any time or complete our online form.

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