A guardian has broad responsibilities and typically assumes legal authority for an incapacitated senior, a minor, or a developmentally disabled individual. If you seek to be someone’s guardian or are about to appoint a guardian by the court, you may need legal representation. Slater & Zurz LLP law firm offers assistance with guardianship as part of their probate law services.
Two types of probate guardians can be appointed under the Uniform Probate Code:
- Guardians who protect a person (called “the ward”) and look out for that person’s personal
welfare. These guardians oversee day-to-day decisions, which include medical decisions.
- Guardians of property who make decisions about assets such as whether a large purchase can be made or whether and how to invest money
Guardianship for an incapacitated person
Generally, a family member, a health care worker, or a clergy member will initiate guardianship for a person who can no longer handle their financial affairs. This person may be a victim of financial exploitation or about to be cheated or duped.
After the guardianship application is filed, the probate court held an evidentiary hearing at which a finding of “incapacity” will be made, or it will be found guardianship is not necessary at this point. Whether guardianship is the least restrictive alternative will also be considered. If guardianship is found to be the answer, a decision will be made whether it is needed just for financial affairs or for various daily activities.
Guardianship for a child
If a minor child (younger than 18 years of age) does not have at least one living parent who is competent, a guardian may be needed to ensure that the minor is properly cared for and that their upbringing and education are appropriate.
That minor may also need a guardian to watch over any significant assets that come into his or her possession, such as an inheritance or proceeds from a lawsuit.
Any person with ties to the child, preferably a family member, can be appointed the guardian for day-to-day care. For guardianship of assets, an attorney, an accountant, or other professional may be named. The guardianship will be granted only for those powers necessary to accomplish what the ward cannot accomplish independently.
Becoming a minor’s guardian
In Ohio, you must first file an application with the probate court in the jurisdiction where the minor resides. If you are applying to be a guardian of assets, you must bond with an insurance company. The bond must be at least twice the value of the child’s assets and must be paid 100 percent in advance of making an application to the court.
After receiving the application, the probate court schedules a hearing to assess the applicant’s
qualifications to serve as guardian.
If the applicant meets all statutory and court requirements and understands that there are statutory obligations, such as reporting requirements and accounting of expenses, which a guardian must meet, the court generally appoints the guardian unless the guardianship is being contested.
If a guardian is named in a Will, a probate judge may construe it as a preference, but the judge is not required to honor the request. The court must consider the child’s best interest.
Why contacting Slater & Zurz LLP may be the best thing to do
A probate attorney or estate planning attorney from Slater & Zurz LLP has the expertise to assist with guardianship proceedings. He can help with an application for guardianship or an objection to a potential appointment.
Although it is possible to obtain legal guardianship without hiring an attorney, it is usually a good idea to retain counsel before petitioning the court to establish guardianship. Speaking with a Slater & Zurz LLP lawyer will help you to understand any complexities in this legal procedure and help protect the best interests of everyone involved.