Guardianship is primarily intended to protect adults who are, or have become, mentally incapable of addressing their own affairs. The Probate Court oversees the guardianship process. Guardianships were already cumbersome, and they became even more so when procedures were updated that became effective in June, 2015. These changes were made to address the limitations of the old system and assure an improved quality of life for wards in Ohio.
To protect wards, the new legal rules require more scrutiny and training of guardians. Significant changes include:
- Family Members as Guardians. Family members may now serve as guardians but must comply with all of the guardianship requirements unless they receive exemptions for some or all of these rules from their local court.
- Criminal Background Checks. Anyone seeking to become a guardian must submit a completed criminal background check to their local probate court.
- Education Requirement. All guardians must complete a free 6-hour fundamentals course that takes place in various regions across the state. An additional 3-hour course is required annually for as long as the person serves as a guardian.
Protection and Support of Wards
Additional changes were made to give wards more control over their lives, including where they live. The Probate Court now requires:
- Guardians to personally visit their ward(s). A potential guardian must personally meet with the ward at least once before establishing the guardianship. Once the guardianship is established, the guardian must meet with their ward at least once each quarter. The ward and guardian may also communicate by telephone, email or other processes, but this cannot replace the face-to-face quarterly meetings.
- Guardians to take the ward’s preferences into account. A guardian is now required to learn their wards likes, dislikes, beliefs and views. The ward’s important possessions, favorite people and preferred activities must also be determined. All of this information must be taken into account by the guardian when establishing a living environment for their ward.
- The least-restrictive environment must be selected for the ward. The guardian must select a living environment that provides for the safe and complete care of the ward but with as few restrictions as possible. The environment should encourage an appropriate level of community interaction and independence.
- The establishment of a complaint system. The probate court must create a system for wards to complain about their guardian. This includes filing the complaint, court review of the document, and notifying both parties of the results.
The Power of Attorney Option
While these new requirements offer improved protection of wards, it is an expensive and time-consuming process for the people who choose to serve as guardians. A less-intrusive way to manage the care of a loved one is through a comprehensive power of attorney.
Hronek Law LLC guides clients through the guardianship process or establishes power of attorney relationships, if that is the better fit for the family. Our personalized care and attention to detail assures that all challenges are addressed in a respectful and confidential manner. Contact us today to learn more.