At Shaw & Nelson, PLLC, our estate planning services include assisting families in Cincinnati, and the surrounding area with guardianships. Well-versed in the applicable state laws, we work closely with our clients to guide them through the process. We understand what’s at stake and the challenges that lie ahead. You can depend on us for compassionate, efficient representation with a personal touch. Book a call today to get started with an experienced guardianship attorney.
What is a Guardianship?
A guardianship is a legal arrangement under which a person, referred to as the “ward,” is placed under the supervision of a guardian, typically a family member, close friend, or a court-appointed fiduciary. Guardianships are designed to protect the following individuals:
- An adult who is mentally incapacitated, disabled, or suffering from severe dementia and incapable of making safe and sound decisions about their care or property.
- A minor without a parental guardian.
Commencing a Guardianship Proceeding in Ohio
Because the process differs from state to state, let’s focus on Ohio for simplicity. To initiate a guardianship proceeding, the petitioner must file an application with the probate court in the county where the proposed ward resides. The applicant must obtain an evaluation by an appropriate expert, such as the proposed ward’s physician, and file a completed Statement of Expert Evaluation with the application. The court will hold a hearing to determine the necessity of the guardianship and the suitability of the guardian and, if there are no objections, appoint the guardian.
Types of Guardianship
Generally, there are two types of guardianship – guardianship of the person and guardianship of the estate or property:
Guardianship of the Person
In this arrangement, the guardian is responsible for the protected person’s care and welfare and has authority over matters such as where the ward will reside, necessary medical care, and end-of-life decisions. At the same time, the guardian has an obligation to maintain as much of the ward’s autonomy as possible.
Guardianship of the Estate or Property
Guardianship of the estate is typically necessary when the proposed ward does not have an estate plan. These are often temporary arrangements to protect them until they regain capacity. The guardian is responsible for making financial decisions on behalf of the protected person, such as managing bank accounts, investments, and real estate. The guardian can also use funds to pay bills and expenses, such as rent or a mortgage, and apply for public benefits (e.g. Social Security Disability, Medicaid) on behalf of the ward. Finally, the guardian must also file an annual accounting of all income and estate expenses with the probate court.
Guardianship of Minors
Guardianship may also be established to protect the legal rights of a minor if a parent is no longer capable of acting on the child’s behalf. A guardian may be necessary under the following circumstances:
- The child’s parents are incapacitated or have died
- The child is not receiving adequate care from the parent(s)
- The child is being abused
In these situations, a close relative is usually appointed as the guardian. Notably, parental approval is typically sought before any legal proceeding, and guardianship does not terminate the legal relationship between the biological parents and the child.
What rights does a ward have?
Appointing a guardian may limit certain rights of a protected individual. These rights include:
- Choosing where to live
- Entering contracts
- Obtaining a driver’s license
- Getting married
- Receiving informed consent for medical treatment
- Making end-of-life decisions
However, a ward retains due process rights, including the right to attend any guardianship proceedings and to be represented by an attorney who can present evidence and question any witnesses.
Why Choose Shaw & Nelson?
Arranging for the care of a loved one who cannot care for themselves is a serious responsibility that requires informed guidance. That’s where Shaw & Nelson step in. Knowing that establishing a guardianship is a difficult decision, we will provide trustworthy advice and emotional support as we guide you through the process. Our attorneys will:
- Prepare and file the guardianship petition with the probate court
- Represent you at the guardianship proceeding
- Advise you on your responsibilities as a guardian
- Provide ongoing counsel to help you fulfill your duties
- Assist with filing annual accountings with the court
When you partner with us, you will have peace of mind knowing that you have taken the necessary steps to protect your loved one.
Talk To An Experienced Guardianship Attorney Today
At Shaw & Nelson, we are committed to guiding families through challenging times. If you need assistance establishing guardianship or have questions about less restrictive alternatives, we can help. Reach out to us today.