There comes a time in life when each person may need help taking care of themselves.
The level of assistance in care and decision-making and the timing of said assistance varies
greatly depending on the individual. Those that volunteer to help their loved one with daily
living may run into obstacles where they need formal authority to help. The law provides a legal
solution given nothing has been done prior to incapacity to establish formal authority. If the
person who requires help did not previously grant this authority through an estate planning
document, Ohio law allows for the appointment of a guardian by the Probate Court sitting in
the county where the ward lives. A guardian is “any person, association, or corporation
appointed by the probate court to have the care and management of the person, the estate, or
both of an incompetent or minor.” 1 In a guardianship case, the applicant providing assistance
becomes the guardian and the individual requiring assistance and for whom the guardian will
act on behalf of is deemed a ward.
There are two types of guardianship that can be granted separately or in conjunction
with one another in Ohio.
1. GUARDIANSHIP OF PERSON (2)
Guardianship of the person allows a guardian to provide for and make decisions
regarding the ward’s physical and mental health, ensure the ward has a proper home, care, and
resources, and is responsible for the general well-being of the ward’s person. If the ward is a
minor, the guardian is responsible for the ward’s education.
2. GUARDIANSHIP OF ESTATE (3)
Guardianship of the estate provides a guardian to manage the ward’s assets and assist
generally with their finances. A guardian of someone’s estate must pay their debts, collect
money owed to the ward, invest the ward’s assets responsibly, sell assets of the ward as
necessary, file or defend lawsuits on behalf of the ward, and file regular inventory and
accounting for the ward’s assets and transactions.
It is no secret that a guardian of someone’s estate has significant power and access
when it comes to the ward’s money and other assets. Ohio law provides safeguards against
unscrupulous guardians who steal or otherwise mismanage funds belonging to a ward. This
includes requiring the guardian of an estate to provide an inventory of all of the ward’s assets
to the court and update the court upon discovery of any new assets. Additionally, the guardian
must provide an accounting to the court on a regular basis to show any and all financial
transactions performed by the guardian. Guardians of estate must also be bonded unless bond
has previously been waived. A bond is an insurance policy issued by an insurance company. If
the guardian steals the ward’s money, the bond company will reimburse the ward and seek
legal action against the guardian.
Please note that there are very specific legal standards and processes for both
guardianship of the person and guardianship of the estate. In addition, there are ways to avoid
the need for a guardianship application by being proactive in your estate planning, which is
recommended. The hassle and financial cost of the adult guardianship process can be
completely avoided in most cases. For more information on eliminating the need for a potential
guardianship case or on filing an adult guardianship case, please contact Rosenacker Law Office
to speak with one of our attorneys.
1 ORC 2111.01(A)
2 ORC 2111.13
3 ORC 2111.14