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How can someone become a guardian?

If any resident of Ohio expects to assume the responsibility of being a guardian for a child or disabled or incompetent adult, it is important for he or she to understand the appointment process. Probate courts make the final decision on which individual, corporation or association assumes the legal responsibility of taking care of an individual's estate and/or personal affairs, but it is possible for individuals to nominate themselves and others for the role of guardian.

If someone is nominated to become a guardian by the potential ward or the current guardian of a minor or incompetent adult, that nominee will be appointed unless the individual declines or a court finds the individual unsuitable for the task. In order for a nomination to be legitimate, it must be in writing and notarized or witnessed by two neutral persons. Individuals are often nominated as guardian in a health care or financial power of attorney document or final will and testament.

When someone is incapable of nominating their own guardian, the court will appoint someone. This is often a family member, but an individual can also ask the court to be appointed as guardian. If a person believes their family member or loved one is in need of a guardian, a physician can perform an expert evaluation and then deem if they are in need of care. If incompetence is determined, the court will then begin the process of appointing a guardian.

Because of the complications that come with taking care of an individual's estate and personal needs, finding a proper guardian is oftentimes a complicated issue. By working with a legal representative who understands the intricacies of guardianship, getting a certain individual or organization appointed as guardian may become much easier.

Source: Ohio Bar, "What is a guardian?", November 13, 2014

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