People who are incapacitated because of a disability or are minors may need a guardian to manage their financial affairs and make important decisions about their care. A person in need of a guardianship is known as a ward. In Ohio, parents may nominate a guardian for their children for the future in case they die before the child reaches adulthood by putting a signed nomination in writing witnessed by two disinterested parties.

A probate court must appoint a guardian for it to become official. Under Ohio law, family members are given preference over non-family members. Once appointed, the guardian must report to the court how he or she is managing the ward’s property and care. Natural parents of minor children do not typically seek guardianship over their own children because they are already legally considered guardians.

If an incapacitated adult needs a guardian, the incapacity must be proven by an affidavit or testimony from a licensed physician. In a situation where a person who is physically incapacitated but otherwise competent appoints a person to manage his or her affairs, this is known as a conservatorship. Guardians have legal responsibilities and legal authority granted by the court to act on behalf of the ward. In some circumstances, guardianships may be limited to a specific purpose or for a specific duration of time.

An emergency guardian may be appointed in some cases when a situation exists that must be addressed before there is time for a hearing. A person interested in a guardianship may wish to consult an attorney experienced in these matters to discuss the different types and how a court is likely to proceed with the case.

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