A legal guardian is a person who has the legal authority to care for the personal and property interests of another person.
The guardian must be over 18 and a citizen or legal resident of the United States.
Guardianship for a minor
Ohio laws state that the parents of a minor are the legal guardians of that child. However, the laws also state that the parents can designate who will become the child’s legal guardian in the event of their death. This is typically subject to the approval of the court. In the unfortunate event of the demise or incapacitation of a child’s parents, if there are no guardianship provisions in place, the decision could be left up to the courts.
By including guardianship provisions as part of your estate planning, you can rest assured that your children will be taken care of if something happens to you.
Guardianship for an incapacitated senior
In the case of an incapacitated senior, the need for a guardian typically arises when someone determines they have become unable to care for themselves and/or their property. Sometimes, there may be a concern that the senior is being financially exploited. In other cases, the senior may struggle with the activities of daily living without assistance, therefore making the need for a guardian necessary.
Guardianship for a developmentally disabled adult
Legal guardians may be appointed for adults. For example, parents may start an action to become the guardians of a developmentally disabled child when the child reaches adulthood.
Mental and physical disabilities can involve severe and sometimes long-term conditions often times imposing great limitations on an individual’s ability to take care of themselves, express themselves verbally, and live independently. Such a disability reflects the necessity for a combination of treatments and services.
Therefore, it’s important to speak to a qualified guardianship attorney and execute a durable power of attorney and a duly probated will. These documents will guarantee that the persons you select, will be there to take care of you or someone you love in the event of some tragic accident or illness.
What if I die and haven’t specified a guardian?
If you don’t include guardianship provisions as part of your estate plan, the probate court will ultimately decide who will serve as guardian for your children. If you would rather not leave that important decision in the hands of an impartial judge, or if there are certain members of your family whom you are set against being appointed to this role, then you need to get prepared by including guardianship provisions in your estate plan.