Gavel And Striking Block Over Guardianship Law Book

If you become incapacitated — or your loved one develops a condition that impairs their ability to manage their affairs, think clearly, or make decisions — a guardianship may need to be put in place. Importantly, there are different types of guardianships in Ohio, depending on the circumstances. While guardianship of the person or estate may be necessary in cases involving dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other serious illnesses, courts prefer to implement the least restrictive guardianship whenever possible. It’s essential to understand what types of guardianships are available and which should be used in your specific situation.

Types of Guardianships Used in Ohio

A guardianship is a legal arrangement that gives another person the legal right to make decisions on behalf of another if they become unable to do so. In such cases, a guardian would be legally responsible for ensuring their ward’s welfare and/or managing their property. However, it’s critical to understand that there are several ways guardianships can arise. A guardian can either be appointed by the court — or selected by the incapacitated person in advance.

The following types of guardianships are used in Ohio:

Testamentary Guardianships

One of the most common types of guardianship in Ohio is testamentary guardianship. These arrangements are made when there is a child or an adult with a disability who is under someone else’s care. Testamentary guardianships are typically put into place during the estate planning process and can be established in a will.

Guardianship of the Person

A guardianship of the person gives someone else the authority to make daily decisions on behalf of an incapacitated person. These decisions can include personal matters involving living arrangements, healthcare, medical treatment, and attendance at training programs. The guardian will also make decisions concerning food, clothing, recreation, and education.

Guardianship of the Estate

Not to be confused with a guardianship of the person, a guardianship of the estate only has to do with making financial decisions for the incapacitated person. For instance, they may be given the authority to pay bills, make investments, conduct business, and handle other financial matters pertaining to the estate. While the court can appoint a guardianship of the person separate from a guardianship of the estate, a judge can also combine these authorities if necessary.

Temporary Guardianships

In some cases, someone may have a short-term need for support during a period of incapacitation. Another person may be appointed as a temporary guardian through a power of attorney or by the court to make decisions on behalf of the incapacitated individual.

Emergency Guardianship

Another type of guardianship that commonly arises in Ohio is an emergency guardianship. An emergency guardian can be appointed by the probate court if an emergency exists and it is necessary to prevent injury to the person in need of a guardian — or their estate. The initial appointment of an emergency guardian lasts for seventy-two hours. The emergency guardianship can be extended up to 30 days after notice has been given to the incompetent person and any other interested parties, and a hearing has been held.


A co-guardianship is when two people have been appointed to make all or limited decisions for the incapacitated person. They may handle the same issues or be responsible for making decisions in separate areas.

Limited Guardianship

A limited guardianship allows a probate court to appoint someone to be a guardian over only a certain area of the individual’s life. For instance, there can be a limited guardianship for the purpose of consenting to medical procedures or for placement in a group home. This is the least restrictive type of guardianship and allows the ward to retain all rights in areas of their life that are not outlined in the court order.

Are There Alternatives to Guardianships?

You can put certain measures into place in advance that avoid the need for a guardianship in the event of incapacity. For example, a trust can be used to handle funds and manage your estate. If the trust owns all of your assets, the trustee you name would take over to manage them upon your incapacitation. You can also execute a power of attorney to designate an agent who will make health decisions on your behalf if you can no longer do so yourself. Selecting a power of attorney can help your family avoid lengthy and costly court proceedings that might otherwise be required to designate someone else to make decisions on your behalf.

Contact an Experienced Ohio Guardianship Attorney

If you or a loved one is in need of a guardianship, it's best to consult with an experienced guardianship attorney to understand your rights and the different types of guardianships that are available. At Middleton Law Offices, we work with clients regarding a wide variety of guardianship matters, from advising families, assisting individuals with executing powers of attorney, and representing the rights of allegedly incapacitated persons in court. Offering trusted legal services for more than 100 years, we are committed to ensuring you have the peace of mind you need. Contact Middleton Law Offices today at 419.548.0196 for a consultation to learn how we can help.

Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. This article is not intended to be legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from a licensed attorney.