If you have an elderly parent who is rapidly declining you may be considering guardianship to ensure that your parent's best interests are met.
When should I consider guardianship?
In Ohio, guardianship is a very restrictive protective service and is reserved for those who are unable to see to their basic needs.
If your parent is suffering from debilitating health issues or severe mental illness, to the point where he or she is incapable of making choices about health care or finances, it may be time for a guardian to be appointed.
What is a guardian?
A guardian is typically appointed by a probate court to look after the affairs of an individual who is incapable of seeing to his or her own well-being.
One of three types of guardians may be appointed by the court. A guardian of the person will see to things such as living situation and medical treatment. A guardian of the estate handles finances and would have access to your parent's bank accounts in order to pay bills or buy items on behalf of your parent. A guardian of the person and the estate has the authority to look after your parent's personal and financial affairs.
If your parent is in failing health and needs to be moved into a health care facility, you may want to consider applying for guardianship of person and estate so that you will be able to make medical decisions on his or her behalf as well as see to any financial needs.
How do I become a guardian?
In order to become a guardian for your parent, an application must be filed with the local probate court. Before the court will decide on guardianship, you must be able to prove that your parent is incapable of taking care him- or herself. This will require a Statement of Expert Evaluation from a medical professional, such as a doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist.
Based on the evidence provided and its own investigation, the court will decide whether or not to proceed with a hearing. The judge will review the evidence and take testimony from next of kin, your parent and any other interested parties before determining if a guardian in necessary.
If the court decides that your parent needs a guardian and appoints you, you will be required to swear the Oath of the Guardian on record. You will also receive Letters of Guardianship from the court that documents the appointment.
If you have a parent in a declining health or mental state, it is important that you understand your options. For advice in such a situation, contact an attorn ey experienced in guardianships.