Guardianship Information

A guardianship is a court ordered relationship in which the guardian acts on behalf of the ward. Wards are persons who are not able to care for themselves or their property. The guardianship may be for the estate only in the circumstance where the guardian cares for the ward's assets. The guardianship may be for the person only when the guardian has responsibility to assure the personal needs of the ward are met. A guardianship may be established for both the person and estate of the ward, however, this court will not establish a minor guardianship for school purposes only.

Who Can Be A Guardian?

A guardian can be an adult person or corporation appointed by the Probate Court. The guardian must be a resident of Ohio.

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Who Needs A Guardian?

An incompetent adult or minor child can have a court appointed guardian. The law defines incompetent as:

...any person who is so mentally impaired as a result of a mental or physical illness or disability, or mental retardation, or as a result of chronic substance abuse, that the person is incapable of taking proper care of the person's self or property or fails to provide for the person's family or other persons for whom the person is charged by law to provide, or any person confined to a penal institution within this state.

A minor in this state is any person under the age of 18.

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Who Selects The Guardian?

Any interested person may apply to be guardian. A minor over the age of 14 may nominate a guardian. Parents may nominate a guardian for their minor children in their wills. An adult may also nominate a guardian through a durable power of attorney. The Court makes the final selection of a guardian.

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How Is A Guardianship Started?

The guardianship process is started by filing an application on Court approved forms in the Probate Court of the county where the ward resides. The applicant must agree to perform the responsibilities of the guardian. If the proposed ward is an adult, the Probate Court Investigator will visit the proposed ward, give notice of the hearing, and make an independent assessment regarding the need for the guardianship. Additionally, if the proposed ward is an adult, an evaluation shall be completed by the appropriate expert and filed along with the guardianship application. A hearing will be held before the Probate Judge or a Magistrate at which time a determination will be made as to the necessity for the guardianship and the suitability of the applicant.

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Rights Of The Ward

The rights of the prospective ward include, but are not limited to; the right to be present at the hearing, to contest any application for guardianship, to show any less restrictive alternatives, to have a court reporter at the hearing, to have a friend or family member present at the hearing, to have an independent evaluation by a court appointed doctor and to be represented by an attorney. Once a year the ward may also request the Court evaluate the continued necessity of the guardianship.

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Court Supervision

By law, the Probate Court is the superior guardian. All guardians must obey the Court's orders as they concern the guardianship. The Court uses the following means to assist in this supervisory role:

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Types Of Guardianships

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Fees

Guardian fees are determined by this Court's local rules. Attorney fees are determined by Ohio Supreme Court rules and this Court's local rules. Fees must be approved by the Court before payment.

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Termination

The guardianship will be terminated upon the death of a ward, upon the ward being restored to competency or in the case of a minor, upon attaining the age of 18. An Adult ward may file a motion to evaluate the continued necessity of the guardianship 120 days after the appointment and once a year thereafter.

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Conservatorship

A conservatorship is a voluntary court supervised relationship in which a mentally competent but physically infirm adult applies to the Court to appoint a conservator to care for the applicant's person, property or both.

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Who Chooses The Conservator?

The conservator is selected by the applicant subject to the approval of the Probate Court.

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The Court's Role

After the application is filed, the Court must have a hearing to determine that: the applicant is physically infirm, the application is voluntarily submitted and the conservator is suitable to serve. The authority given to the conservator may be limited by the applicant. After the application is granted, the laws which apply to guardianships will also apply to the conservatorship. The applicant then becomes the conservatee, the person for whom the conservatorship is established.

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How Is The Conservatorship Terminated?

The conservatorship is terminated if the Court determines the conservatee has become mentally incompetent, dies or by written notice of termination by the conservatee.

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Legal practice in the Probate Court is restricted by law to attorneys who are licensed by the Supreme Court of Ohio. Due to the complexity of the law and desire to avoid costly errors, most individuals who have filings before the Court are represented by an attorney. Court employees are prohibited by statute from practicing law and cannot give legal advice.