What Exactly Is Guardianship?
The purpose of guardianship is to protect individuals from themselves or from those who would take advantage of their vulnerable state. But the process can become contentious when family members disagree over the necessity of guardianship or who should be appointed.
Asserting Legal Control To Protect A Loved One
The attorneys of Mahaffey & Associates, LLC, have long experience with Ohio guardianship proceedings and related elder law matters. We offer guidance and representation in these sensitive situations, whether you are seeking an appointment as guardian or challenging such a petition.
Legal Guardianship Of An Elderly Adult
A guardian is an individual appointed by a probate court to be legally responsible for an incompetent person. Typically, one guardian is appointed for both roles:
- Guardianship of the person refers to the ward’s personal care and well-being, such as decisions about living arrangements, health care or nursing home care.
- Guardianship of the estate refers to the ward’s assets and finances. The guardian can pay bills, manage accounts, conduct transactions or take legal action in the ward’s name.
The need for guardianship may arise suddenly, as when an elderly parent has suffered a stroke or other incapacitating event. Sometimes guardianship is triggered by a fire or accident in the home, or discovery of fraud or financial abuse. Perhaps Alzheimer’s has gradually degraded the person’s ability to govern his or her own affairs.
How Are Guardians Chosen? Who Has A Say In The Decision?
Legal guardians may be nominated in advance in an individual’s will, power of attorney or health care directive. If the ward did not name a guardian or if the nominee declines, another applicant can be appointed. Guardians are always subject to court approval.
Sometimes, the elderly person or other family members object to the applicant as unsuitable for the job or motivated by self-serving interests. Our lawyers can represent the applicant, the ward or third parties in contested guardianship proceedings, including petitions to remove a guardian for breach of duty.
We also counsel appointed guardians on legal issues that arise, such as sale of property and administrative duties, such as accounting and reports.