Ohio Changes To Rules Applicable To Guardianships Go Into Effect On July 1, 2022

Changes to several of the Ohio rules applicable to guardianships go into effect on July 1, 2022.  The amendments to the Rules of Superintendence of the Courts of Ohio aim to improve and streamline the procedures applicable to disputed visitation of wards under a guardianship, and are also directed at identifying potential abuse, fraud, and exploitation of wards.  All of the amended rules can be found here, and some key changes are set forth below with the new text underlined.

Applications For Ohio Guardianships

Rule 66 addresses applications for the appointment of a guardian on the grounds of mental incompetency.   The rule provides that:

All applications for the appointment of a guardian on the grounds of mental incompetency shall be accompanied by either a statement of a physician or clinical psychologist or a statement that the prospective ward has refused to submit to an examination or the agent of the prospective ward or other individual has refused to consent to an examination.

Visitations And Visitation History With the Ward

Several rule amendments are directed at visitations with the prospective ward.

Rule 66.03 directs the probate division of the local courts to adopted rules that establish a process for submitting comments and complaints regarding the performance of guardians appointed by the court, including actions of the guardian in denying a request of a person to visit with the ward.

Rule 66.05 is amended to include that the probate division that establishes a guardianship shall:

Direct the court investigator to inquire into the visitation history and preferences of the prospective ward during the service of notice and initial guardianship investigation pursuant to R.C. 2111.041 or at any other time that the court directs. The court investigator shall make a written report of the visitation recommendation to the court.

Reporting Allegations Of Abuse, Neglect Or Exploitation To Law Enforcement Or Ombudsman

Rule 66.08 adds new language expanding the reporting of abuse, neglect or exploitation of wards in Ohio guardianships:

A guardian shall immediately report to the probate division of a court of common pleas and, when applicable, to adult protective services, the long-term care ombudsman, or law enforcement any appropriate allegations of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a ward.

An ombudsman is a person that serves as an advocate for people that are receiving nursing-home care, home care, and care in assisted living facilities.

Facilitating Communication Desirable To And In the Best Interest Of Wards In Ohio Guardianships

Rule 66.09 will include enhanced responsibilities of an Ohio guardian to the ward related to communication and visitation with people that the guardian believes is in the best interests of the ward.

(1) A guardian shall strive to know a ward’s preferences and belief system by seeking information from the ward and the ward’s family and friends. The guardian is encouraged to identify those persons with whom the ward desires to communicate and facilitate the communication the guardian believes is in the best interest of the ward.

(2) A guardian shall do all of the following:

[Existing language unaffected by the amendments is omitted to conserve space]

(g) Document all complaints made by a ward and assess the need to report the complaints to the court of common pleas;

(h) Encourage visitation and communication with the ward so long as such visitation and communication is in the best interest of the ward;

(i) Promptly submit a list of names to the court of any persons or entities whom the guardian has excluded or seeks to exclude from visiting or communicating with the ward.

It is clear that the July 1, 2022 amendments to the rules impacting Ohio guardianships are all aimed to protecting the rights and safety of wards under guardianships, and adding extra layers of protection and reporting to best serve some the most vulnerable in our society.

To read more about Ohio guardianships and probate issues, access our Complete Guide to Ohio Probate.