Recently, the Ohio Supreme Court adopted amendments to its rules concerning guardianships. The main reason that these changes occurred is due to an exposé done by the Columbus Dispatch concerning various guardianships and numerous problems and concerns involving those guardianships. That article specifically mentioned that thousands of vulnerable Ohio residents are in guardianships which are designed to protect them but instead are allowing unscrupulous guardians to take away their assets and freedoms. Therefore, as a result of these items, the Ohio Supreme Court has made numerous changes to the guardianship law. These changes involve a number of subjects and are outlined as follows:
1. An application for emergency guardianship shall be filed in person by the applicant, shall contain an expert evaluation and also a document stating why an emergency exists, and that immediate action is required to prevent significant injury to a person or estate of either a minor or incompetent. If the emergency guardianship is approved, then the proposed ward needs to be notified as soon as possible.
2. A procedure now exists in which comments and complaints can be made regarding guardians of wards. These comments and complaints can be filed with the Probate Court and will be made part of the record. A copy of the document will then be provided to the guardian and addressed by either the court’s investigator or the magistrate who is assigned to the guardianship. If determined to be appropriate, the matter may be set for a hearing where the individual commenting or complaining and the guardian will be in attendance to resolve the matter.
3. A guardian of a person shall develop a written guardianship plan stating what the goals are to meet the ward’s needs. This plan needs to be a detailed plan identifying strengths and needs of the proposed ward and must be updated and filed with the guardian’s annual report to the Probate Court. If the ward is institutionalized, then the guardian must review the institution’s plan of care and attend the quarterly plan of care meetings as well.
4. The guardian is required to meet with the ward in person on at least a quarterly basis.
5. The guardian is required to notify the Probate Court of any change in address within 30 days of the address change. Failure to do so may result in the guardian being removed.
6. The guardian must notify the court of the ward’s change of residence and the reason for the change at least 10 days prior to the change, and this shall be subject to the court’s approval.
7. Specific requirements are now in place concerning guardians attending various hours of training. Individuals who want to be guardians will be required to take a minimum of six hours of guardianship training and three hours annually for guardianship continuing education. Guardians who fail to comply with these rules will be removed or ineligible to be a guardian. Therefore, if you are a guardian of a ward, you need to contact your attorney to discuss how these changes will affect you as a guardian for your wards to make sure that you are in compliance.
NOTE: This general summary of the law should not be used to solve individual problems since slight changes in the fact situation may require a material variance in the applicable legal advice.
James F. Contini II, Esq.
Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law by the OSBA
Krugliak, Wilkins, Griffiths & Dougherty Co., LPA
158 North Broadway New Philadelphia, Ohio 44663
Phone: (330) 364-3472 Fax: (330) 602-3187