One of the most difficult realities is the moment we realize our parents are growing older and experiencing the signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. These are just two of the any other number of disabilities that renders them unable to make decisions for themselves and their finances. When that happens, a family will typically come together to determine what’s best. Guardianships are usually the preferred protections that meet their needs while honoring their dignity as well.
Ohio defines guardianship:
A guardian is a person, association or corporation appointed by a probate court to be legally responsible for an incompetent person and/or the person’s property. Most commonly, individuals are appointed to serve as guardians. The person for whom a guardian has been appointed is called the ward.
Incapacity planning is a particular area of the law that’s designed to protect those who are unable to care for themselves, whether it’s due to an illness, an accident, an Alzheimer’s diagnosis or anything else that meets the legal parameters becoming incapacitated.
Depending on the type of care that’s needed, a guardianship can be customized to ensure your loved one maintains as much independence as possible, but it also allows the guardian to make bigger decisions on a person’s behalf, including the sale of property or other assets.
Ohio recognizes several types of guardianships, including emergency guardianship, co-guardianship (when two people are appointed), guardianship of the estate, and guardianship of the person. There are others, and your Ohio estate planning lawyer can help you determine which route best serves your needs.
Additionally, there are alternatives that can be used in lieu of guardianships. Creating a power of attorney and setting up a trust as is defining a conservatorship are a few options.
Appeals in the guardianship process is allowed and if someone feels as though the guardian is not acting in the interest of his or her ward, the probate judge can request a review.
Also, if the guardian was put in charge of any financial decisions, he must provide an accounting to the courts. He must also ensure his personal funds aren’t co-mingled with the ward’s assets. Direct deposit and electronic bank transfers can be invaluable for guardians who want to establish recurring monthly payments to creditors. This is both a time saver and convenient in that a bank printout can be used to account for expenditures during the annual review. Further, withdrawal limits can be placed on the account and in some instances, a joint signature account can offer even more protections. A joint signature requires more than one signature on the ward’s checks.
Of course, few of us want to face this kind of dilemma, either for ourselves or our loved ones. The better prepared we are today, the better the odds of not having to tackle these issues at the worst possible time. To learn more about guardianships in Ohio, contact our offices today.