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Harry Bernstein July 30, 2018

Do you have a disabled child? Whether their disability is physical or mental, it can be an anxious experience to watch them become adults and worry over whether they can care for themselves once they reach 18 years of age. If you are certain that they cannot take care of their own basic care, you should consider seeking guardianship in Ohio for your adult disabled child. Becoming their guardian will allow you to continue caring for them through being responsible for their living arrangements, medical care, or financial decisions (depending on the type of guardianship you are awarded).

What does Guardianship in Ohio mean?

Guardianship in Ohio is granted in cases wherein an individual has a mental or physical disability that prevents them from managing their own affairs. In these extreme conditions, a guardian will be appointed by the probate court to handle the legal, financial, or personal affairs - or all of the above! - of the disabled person (known as a ward). Different types of guardianship in Ohio include Guardianship of the Estate (guardian makes all financial decisions for the ward), Guardianship of the Person (guardian makes day-to-day decisions and arrangements for the ward), and Guardianship of the Person and Estate (which includes all authority from the previous two individual guardianship types).

Under Guardianship of the Person, the guardian is responsible for daily decisions such as living arrangements, providing for food and clothing, making medical treatment choices, and so on. Some parents with disabled children who reach the age of 18 may wish to continue taking care of their children and become their guardians. Whether you’re granted a somewhat limited guardianship (Guardianship of the Estate or Guardianship of the Person only) or guardianship with more sweeping authority (Guardianship of the Person and Estate), you will be responsible for demonstrating to the probate court that you are maintaining the ward’s finances and providing appropriate care, all within the ward’s best interests.

Why should you seek a Guardianship in Ohio?

A guardianship is a very serious step to take in the care of a person with disabilities, and should be considered only after all other choices have been considered. Once a guardian is appointed over a person, it takes some rights away from that person. For example, once a guardian of estate is appointed, the guardian’s financial decisions on behalf of the ward cannot be contested. A guardian of the person’s authority is the final word on a ward’s day-to-day life. Guardianship being granted over a ward effectively limits the ward’s autonomy and independence. (This makes a limited guardianship often a preferred state of affairs - providing maximum autonomy to the ward in areas of life they are capable in and protecting them via your guardianship over the parts of their lives where they are incapable.)

You should seek a guardianship for your adult disabled child only when they are incapable of making their own decisions in life - when they cannot care for their basic needs, financial interests, or medical care. This could be due to a severe mental disability, such as a developmental disability (e.g., mental retardation) or because they’re on the severe end of the autism spectrum. It could also be due to an extensive physical handicap, brain injury, or mental illness. After carefully considering what is in the best interests of your child, you may decide its best to seek guardianship over them.

How are you granted Guardianship in Ohio?

The process of being appointed guardian begins with filing an application for guardianship with the probate court. Once you’ve submitted the application, a medical professional must evaluate the adult you are seeking guardianship over in order to assess whether a guardian is necessary. A court investigator will also schedule an appointment with the ward to make their own assessment. After these preliminary steps, a court hearing will be scheduled either before a judge or, often, a magistrate.

The hearing can be a simple process if everyone agrees that the ward needs a guardian to help them with their affairs: if there are no objections, you will receive a letter of guardianship. However, if there are any objections then the hearing will involve the examination of witnesses. Also, please note that the ward is entitled the right to be present at this hearing and also to be represented by their own attorney (which may be appointed by the court if they cannot afford one). Whether or not there is any contestation of your application for guardianship, you will only be rewarded guardianship when the ward’s - your child’s - incompetence is established by the Ohio probate court.

When you’re ready to seek guardianship over your disabled adult child, I’m ready to help you move efficiently through the process as painlessly as possible. Simply contact my office through my contact form or call me at 216-600-0124 today.