News and EventsThursday, June 11, 2015
New guardianship rules take effect in Ohio
The Ohio Supreme Court has issued new rules for all Ohio guardians that went into effect June 1. The new rules fall under Rule 66 in the Rules of Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio and are meant to raise guardianship standards across Ohio’s 88 counties to ensure the best interests of wards are safeguarded.
The rules have been in process for several years, starting with standards that were developed by a multi-disciplinary committee at the Court. Non-profit and government agencies, along with experts in gerontology served on the committee.
Previously, county probate courts were left to set their own rules and policing standards for guardianship. Experts say these changes are needed and are a positive step in offering increased protections for those under guardianship. The Columbus Dispatch conducted an investigation that uncovered widespread abuse and neglect in the guardianship system.
The new rules require training, monitoring, and background checks, and require guardians to meet with their wards at least every three months. The new rules apply to anyone who serves as a guardian, including lawyers, social workers and family members.
Who needs a guardian?
Ohio law defines incompetent as any person who is found incapable of taking care of themselves or their property as the result of a mental or physical illness or disability, or as a result of chronic substance abuse. Wards require assistance in decision making and advocacy based on limitations that impair their ability to make competent decisions. They typically live in nursing homes, group homes, and other supported living environments.
In Ohio, seniors account for most of the 67,000 individuals served by court-appointed guardians.
Who can be a guardian?
Both paid and volunteer guardians are appointed by the Probate Court to make decisions for their wards relating to health care, living arrangements, or safety issues. Many times the guardian is the only person who visits outside of medical professionals or caregivers.
Several local agencies offer volunteer guardian training programs. For information on how to become a volunteer guardian, or agencies that offer guardians, visit Council on Aging’s resource directory.
Highlights of the new guardianship rules include:
For more information about the rule changes, visit Court News Ohio.