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What does guardianship of an adult in Ohio entail?

On Behalf of | May 21, 2024 | Guardianship

Guardianship of an adult in Ohio involves a legal process wherein a court appoints an adult to make decisions on behalf of another adult who is unable to make decisions for themselves. This scenario typically applies to adults who are incapacitated due to mental illness, developmental disabilities and/or physical limitations. 

The first step in establishing guardianship involves determining whether the vulnerable adult (referred to as the ward) is indeed incapacitated. This process will likely include a thorough assessment of the vulnerable individual’s ability to make sound decisions regarding their personal care, finances and medical treatment. Family members, medical professionals or certain other concerned parties can initiate this process by filing an application with the probate court.

Types of guardianship

Ohio recognizes several types of guardianship:

  • Guardianship of the person: This type involves making personal and healthcare decisions for the ward. The guardian ensures that the ward’s daily needs, such as housing, medical care and personal hygiene, are met.
  • Guardianship of the estate: This type focuses on managing the ward’s financial affairs, including paying bills, managing investments and protecting assets.
  • Plenary guardianship: A combination of both personal and estate guardianship, where the guardian has comprehensive responsibility over both the personal and financial aspects of the ward’s life.
  • Limited guardianship: The court grants limited powers to the guardian, restricting their decision-making authority to specific areas where the ward needs assistance.

When guardianship seemingly becomes necessary, a petition for guardianship must be filed in the county where the ward resides. The petitioner must provide evidence of the ward’s incapacity, typically through medical reports and testimony. The ward and their relatives are then notified of the petition, and a court hearing is scheduled. During the hearing, the court examines the evidence, may hear from the ward and considers input from family members and medical professionals before rendering a decision.

A guardian has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the ward. They must make decisions that promote the ward’s well-being and respect their preferences as much as possible. Guardians are required to file regular reports with the court detailing the ward’s condition and the management of their finances. This is not a role to be assumed lightly.