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Can you change a court-appointed guardian?

On Behalf of | Mar 1, 2024 | Estate Planning |

A guardian is an individual appointed by the court to care for another person — the ward — who can’t manage their own affairs due to a disability, age, or incapacity.

But what if the ward doesn’t like their guardian for some reason? Is it possible to change a guardian?

Ohio laws on changing guardians

Per state law, changing a guardian under certain circumstances is possible. The process involves petitioning the probate court to review the current guardianship arrangement.

To initiate a change, an interested party must file a motion detailing the reasons for the alteration. The court then examines the evidence and may appoint a new guardian if it finds just cause.

Reasons to nominate another guardian

There are various reasons why someone would want to nominate another guardian. They include:

  • Incapacity or illness of the guardian: If a guardian can’t fulfill their duties due to their own illness or incapacity, their ward may need a new guardian.
  • Relocation: If a guardian moves away or is no longer geographically close enough to manage the ward’s care effectively, it may be necessary to appoint someone more readily available.
  • Mismanagement of assets: Should there be evidence that the guardian is mismanaging the ward’s financial assets, the ward’s family might call for a change.
  • Neglect or abuse: In cases where there is neglect or abuse of the ward by the guardian, the ward’s family might take immediate action to safeguard their relative’s well-being.
  • Death of the guardian: Upon the death of a guardian, they’ll need a successor.
  • Conflict of interest: A guardian may have a conflict of interest that impacts their ability to act in the ward’s best interest, necessitating a change.
  • Improvement of the ward’s condition: If the ward’s condition improves significantly, they may no longer require a guardian, or they may be able to petition for a less restrictive form of guardianship.
  • Guardian’s violation of court orders: If the guardian doesn’t comply with court orders or the terms of the guardianship, a new guardian may be appointed.
  • Ward’s request: The court may consider appointing a new guardian if the ward can express a reasoned preference for a change.
  • Better qualified guardian: Sometimes, another individual is better qualified to serve as the guardian, prompting a change.

The process of changing a guardian

Once an interested party (such as the ward’s family) files a complaint with the probate court, the court will inform the current guardian and all relevant parties of the petition to change. The court then launches an investigation to determine whether there’s a need for the change.

After the investigation, a hearing is set where both sides – for and against the change – can present their case. The judge then makes a decision based on the ward’s best interest.

If you are an interested party in an estate and you believe a guardianship change is necessary, you’ll need legal advice. An attorney may be able to help guide you through the complex process and make your case during the hearing.

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