Guardianship of an Incompetent Adult

What is a Guardian?

A guardian is an individual appointed by Probate Court to protect, make decisions for, and act for a person who is incompetent. The person who needs a guardian is known as a ward. A guardian of an adult, once appointed by the Court, will receive Letters of Authority to act as legal guardian of the ward.


How the Court determines that a person needs a guardian?

  • If the proposed ward is incompetent, that is, “so mentally impaired and medically in need that they are incapable of taking proper care of themselves or their property” and
  • A formal hearing is conducted by the Judge or Magistrate to determine if the guardianship is necessary, the guardian is suitable, and the guardian understands his/her duties.


Types of Adult Guardianships:

  • Person and/or Estate: A guardian may be appointed either a guardian of the person, a guardian of the estate, or both. A guardian of the person has custody of, controls, and protects the person of the ward. A guardian of the estate controls and protects the assets or property of the ward.
  • Limited: A guardian may be appointed with limited powers to make restricted or specific decisions for the ward. The ward retains all powers not granted to the guardian.
  • Emergency: In an emergency in which significant injury to a prospective ward may occur unless immediate action is taken, the Court may appoint an emergency guardian for 72 hours.


Rights of the Ward:

  • A ward has the right to be present at the hearing, to object to an application for their guardianship, to have the hearing recorded, to have a friend or family member present at the hearing, and to be represented by an attorney.
  • A prospective ward also has the right to present evidence of a less restrictive alternative, and if indigent, can request to have an attorney and independent expert appointed at Court expense.

Duties of a Guardian:

  • Primary: To act in the best interest of the ward.
  • Inventory: The guardian must inventory all of the ward’s property.
  • Reports: All guardians must file an annual written report concerning the status of the ward and the continued need for guardianship.
  • Accountings: A guardian of the estate must file a written account with the Court annually as to the income and expenses of the ward’s estate.
  • Prior Approval: The guardian must first obtain approval of the Probate Court before making any expenditures for their ward, including entering into contracts or leases, making improvements to real estate, mortgaging real estate, selling assets of the ward, or settling any personal injury claim for the ward.

Court Actions possible during a Guardianship:

  • Citations: If a guardian fails to file a timely report, inventory, or accounting, the guardian may be cited to appear in Court. A finding against the guardian could lead to a fine, a reduction of the guardian’s fee, or removal of the guardian.
  • Investigations: To determine if a guardianship is functioning properly, the Court may order an investigation by a Court Investigator, Law Enforcement Agency, Adult Protective Service, or other County Agency.
  • Removal: The Court may, at any time, in the best interest of the ward, remove the guardian after notice and a hearing.

How do I become a Guardian?

  • You must file an Application for Guardianship at Probate Court.
  • All forms are available at Court or on the website.
  • All forms must be completely filled out, typewritten or legibly printed.
  • You must accept the duties and responsibilities of being a guardian.
  • A statement of expert evaluation, regarding the ward’s mental and physical condition, from a treating physician, psychiatrist, or licensed psychologist must be included.
  • You must have a BCI background check. Background checks should be completed at the time of application. Processing a background check can take anywhere from 3 to 30 days. The fee for BCI Background check is $32.00 and is non-refundable. You must have a valid government-issued photo ID (Driver’s License, State ID, Military ID, Green Card). Background checks are available through the Summit County Clerk of Courts, or you may go to the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation to find a BCI location nearest you.
  • You will be required to view a training video and attend a hearing to approve the guardianship.
  • All Guardians of the Estate must be bonded. This involves a credit check by a bonding company. A bond is an insurance policy to protect the ward’s money and property from improper action by a guardian.


Court Actions in preparation for the guardianship:

  • All adult Next of Kin will be notified of the date and time of the hearing. Next of Kin may include a spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, or grandparents. If any of the Next of Kin agree beforehand to the guardianship, they may sign a “Waiver of Notice and Consent.”
  • An investigation will be conducted by a Court Investigator to explain to the ward their rights and to report back to the Court on the need for the guardianship.


Forms to File with the Court:

Form 17.0  – Application for Appointment of Guardian of an Alleged Incompetent

Form GA.6 – Addendum to Application for Appointment of Guardian

Form 17.1 – Statement of Expert Evaluation

  • The entire form/appropriate boxes must be completed.
  • Must be dated within three (3) months of the filing date by a treating physician, psychiatrist, or licensed psychologist.

Form 15.0 – Next of Kin of Proposed Ward

Form 15.1 – Waiver and Consent

Form 15.2 – Fiduciary’s Acceptance Guardian

Form 15.3 – Guardian’s Bond (determined at the hearing)

Form GA-M.10Non-Public Record Information

Form GA-M.12Guardian’s Credibility Application

Fill out these forms after you have been appointed Guardian:

Form 15.5Guardian’s Inventory

  • Due within three months after appointment.

Form 15.6Application for Authority to Release Funds

Form 15.7Application for Authority to Expend Funds/Order

  • An inventory must be filed before expenditures will be approved.
  • You must supply receipts for all expenditures.

Form 17.7Guardian’s Report

  • Due once a year on the guardianship appointment anniversary.

Form 17.8 – Plan For Guardianship

  • Due once a year on the guardianship appointment anniversary.

Form 17.1Statement of Expert Evaluation

  • Due every year on the anniversary date of the guardianship appointment.
  • The entire form/appropriate boxes must be completed.
  • Must be dated within three (3) months of the filing date by a treating physician, psychiatrist, or licensed psychologist.
  • All forms must be typewritten or legibly printed.


Guardian’s Account:

Form 15.8 – Guardian’s Account

  • Must be filed on an annual basis unless otherwise ordered by the Court.
  • Calculations/totals must be correct.
  • The Guardian must sign account.
  • If Account is delinquent, no expenditures, sales, distributions, or fees will be approved.
  • You must supply receipts for all expenditures.
  • Costs must be paid before an account is approved.


Filing Fee:

  • Filing Fee is $280.00
  • If you use a credit card, a 3% charge will be added.