Guardianship refers to the relationship between a person, association, or corporation who has been appointed by a probate court to be legally responsible for, make decisions for, and act on behalf of an individual and/or their assets. This is most often an involuntary proceeding where family members, or others, ask the probate court to protect someone who appears to be incompetent.
In Ohio, it is most common for an individual to be court appointed as a guardian. For minors, under the age of 18, who have at least one living and competent parent, the parent is considered the guardian. If neither parent is living, or if they are found to be incompetent/unfit, then the court will assign someone else to be the guardian. While natural parents are most often assumed to be the guardian, there are circumstances where, due to the significant nature of assets owed to a minor, that a natural parent would need to apply to be the guardian so that the court can ensure proper handling of the minor’s assets. If the parents, under any circumstances above, are not able to fill the role of guardian, and make decisions for the ward, then any person with ties to the child may apply to be the guardian. While it is preferred that a family member be appointed as guardian, particularly in matters of education, health, and upbringing; it is also possible that a professional could be appointed to assist with management of assets.
Guardians for minors provide for day-to-day care, paid from the minor (ward’s) assets, and are most often appointed to ensure the following:
- Properly care for a minor’s health, including proper food and medical care
- Upbringing to include shelter, clothing, and other necessities
- Manage any assets that fall into the possession of a minor. These may include financial decisions involving an injury settlement or inheritance which includes acting as a fiduciary of the ward’s estate. While this is most obviously aimed at ensuring any debts are paid in a timely manner, and all physical assets are inventoried and accounted for, this also means filing or defending against lawsuits on behalf of the ward
In instances where guardians must be appointed for adults, they are typically appointed because the court has found the individual (ward) incapacitated due to:
- Developmental Disability
- Brain Injury
- Chronic Mental Illness
- Other causes
Experienced probate lawyers from Dagger Law can assist you with your guardianship duties.
While the handling of our own personal assets is second nature to most of us, guardianship has some additional rules and requirements that must be met when handling another person’s property. Developing a close relationship with a trusted legal resource is important to ensure that you do not violate the terms of your guardianship appointment, and even to make sure that you fully understand the legal language that is included in the appointment. We appreciate that the courts, and attorneys, don’t always use plain language that can be understood by all when drafting documents. Whether you need help translating the document into something you can understand, or you need to discuss any hidden pitfalls in the guardianship role, we are here to help.
Q: How do I apply for guardianship?
A: To apply for guardianship in Ohio, you must complete a Guardianship Application. These applications can be obtained through the probate court, or on probate court websites. Applications must be filed with the probate court in the county which the proposed ward lives. For example, if the individual who you wish to obtain guardianship for lives in Fairfield County, then the application would need to be filed in Fairfield county, regardless of where you live.
Q: Will an attorney travel to me, or do I need to come to your offices in either Lancaster or Canal Winchester?
A: While some meetings will need to be held in our law offices, we do try to minimize your travel time by offering two convenient locations in both Lancaster and Canal Winchester, Ohio. It is our goal to minimize the disruption to your life caused by legal issues, and many communications or meetings can be conducted through emails or phone calls. In certain circumstances we realize that it isn’t possible for clients to come into our offices, in person, and visits to your location may be required. If a Dagger Law attorney is retained to represent or assist you, they will travel to the necessary court hearings and legal procedures in order to represent you, anywhere in Ohio! Please note that in some instances the cost to represent your case may require an unusual amount of money due to travel expenses. In such cases, we may recommend using legal representation closer to the location of your case. We are happy to provide referrals in these instances, if we are able. Whether you are located in Central Ohio, Southeastern Ohio, Fairfield County, Hocking County, Licking County, Pickaway County, Franklin County, Lancaster, Baltimore, Circleville, Buckeye Lake, Newark, Logan, Canal Winchester, the Greater Columbus area or other locations nearby; we have you covered. Check out the nearest location to you by clicking Our Locations Page
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