The legal elderly guardianship relationship is created when an Ohio court appoints someone to care for an older person who can no longer care for themselves. The older person is known as the ward.

Why would a person require a guardian?

Sometimes, an older person becomes unable to properly care for themselves. They may forget to take necessary medicines, neglect regular hygiene or become unable to manage their finances. In these cases, the court appoints a guardian to protect them.

How does the process work?

In Ohio, the ward in question, their domestic partner, spouse, friend, relative or a government agency can ask the court to appoint a guardian.

The guardianship process is sometimes complex and long. This is understandable, as it will impact the ward’s personal freedoms.

In Ohio, the process starts with the filing of a guardianship application in the ward’s county probate court. Next, a court investigator visits and assesses the ward.

The guardianship applicant must get an evaluation of the proposed ward from an expert, such as their doctor. Once everything is done, a hearing is held to decide whether the older person needs a guardian and if the proposed guardian is acceptable.

What are the guardian’s duties?

A guardian must put the ward’s interests first. They may have other responsibilities, such as choosing where the ward will live, preparing the ward’s budget and keeping the ward healthy.

Pros and cons of elderly guardianship

The main benefit of elderly guardianship is ensuring the ward receives proper care. Unfortunately, this is an expensive process which involves many steps. The ward loses some of their rights, and there’s always the risk the guardian will not fulfill their duties.

Because of the drawbacks involved, elderly guardianship is considered a last resort. Some alternatives include a living trust, in which the older person has someone else handle their finances, and a power of attorney, which allows the older person to give someone else power to act on their behalf.

Elderly guardianship is a serious obligation to take on. If you feel this is necessary to protect a loved one, learn as much as you can before you take formal action.