Gayle Reeves' Blog

Guardianship 2015 Changes

Gayle A. Reeves - Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Effective June 1, 2015 the Ohio Supreme Court issued rules that directly affect all guardians, both existing and newly appointed.  The purpose of these rules is to educate the guardians on their responsibilities and to make sure the guardian focuses on the best interests of the ward.

            A guardian is a person who is appointed by a Probate Court to handle financial matters and make decisions on behalf of an incompetent individual referred to as the “Ward.”

            The first major changes are the educational requirements for the guardian.  Every guardian is required to attend a 6-hour course on the fundamentals of the guardian/ward relationship.  This course must be completed either prior to the appointment as guardian or within 6 months following the appointment.  A guardian who does not complete this training will be cited for contempt of court and subject to sanctions including but not limited to, imposition of a fine, denial of compensation, and/or removal as guardian.

            Annually, following the fundamentals training, the guardian must complete a 3-hour continuing education program.  Once again, failure to do so may result in sanctions and/or removal as guardian.

            All guardians must submit to a civil and criminal background check prior to appointment.

            The second major change is with the guardian reporting requirements.  The guardian of a person must file an annual guardianship plan.  The plan must state the goals for meeting the ward’s personal and financial needs.  The guardians are required to meet with their wards at least quarterly, communicate privately, assess the ward’s needs, and document their observations.  This is in addition to the biennial reporting that is currently required.

            Finally, the Supreme Court adopted a process for submitting and considering comments or complaints regarding the performance of guardians.  The Court must receive a written complaint.  Once received, the Court will assign the case to an investigator who will perform an initial review of the complaint and the guardianship case.  The results of the investigator will determine whether the complaint is dismissed, schedule it for a show cause hearing, refer the matter to a Court Visitor under the Court’s Guardianship Visitor Program, ask the investigator to conduct a formal investigation, or refer the case to appropriate law enforcement agencies.  The Court also has the option of referring the case to Mediation so that the parties have an opportunity to work out any differences between themselves.