When a person is awarded guardianship, it means that a family court judge has granted them the authority to make decisions on behalf of another person. An individual under guardianship—a “protected person”—is usually a legal minor and, therefore, cannot make responsible decisions independently. Typically, guardianships conclude when the protected person turns 18 and begins to handle all of their own decisions from a legal standpoint.

When Do Minors Need Guardians?

kids and child custody mattersOrdinarily, a child’s parents would make decisions for their child. If the parents are deceased or are unable to take on that responsibility for any reason, the court may need to designate a guardian for that child.

A guardian should be prepared to handle all aspects of the protected person’s estate. If the parent has a disease, a mental illness, or a mental incapacity, it might not be possible for them to oversee the child’s legal affairs. The child would need a guardian in this case as well. Guardians might also need to make such decisions as where the child lives and what kinds of healthcare they receive.

Guardianship cases are handled at the county level. Therefore, to file for guardianship, the protected person in question must have lived in a particular county for at least six months. If you are applying for guardianship, you can turn to Donnellon, Donnellon & Miller to find highly qualified guardianship attorneys in Cincinnati for guidance.

Three Types of Guardianship

A guardian’s control of a protected person is limited by the authority an Ohio court grants according to the law. In Ohio, guardianship is handled one of three ways:

1. Guardianship of the Minor’s Person

If the child’s parents are unwilling or unable to care for the child, the court may appoint a guardian. This also might happen if a court determines that a guardian would better promote the minor’s best interests than the parents.

2.  Guardianship of the Minor’s Estate

If the child has obtained more than $25,000 in property, the law requires the child to get legally authorized help from a guardian, who would oversee the administration of those financial assets. For example, if the child has inherited effects such as cash accounts and life insurance, their guardian may need to make decisions regarding their estate. The guardian also must collect money owed to the child, deposit funds into their account, and protect all assets until the child reaches adulthood.

3.  Guardianship of the Minor’s Person and Estate

When joint control of the child and the child’s assets is required, guardianship will cover both the individual and their estate.

If the protected person is over fourteen years of age, the state of Ohio allows the child to nominate a guardian. The Court ultimately appoints the guardian, but the child can make the nomination.

Being an Effective Guardian

Applying for guardianship is a serious undertaking. It requires careful thought and the assistance of an experienced family attorney. As a prospective guardian, you should have as much knowledge about and personal contact with the protected person as possible. It also helps if you already have a positive relationship with the child and can demonstrate genuine concern for their physical, mental, and financial well-being. Find out in advance what you will be required to do when handling any assets or expenditures on behalf of the child.

You should maintain a positive relationship with the protected person’s family members whenever possible. It is essential to keep them informed of your decisions on the child’s behalf. Doing so will go far in avoiding misunderstandings and conflicts. An experienced family attorney at Donnellon, Donnellon & Miller can advise you on how to handle your interactions with the child’s family.