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The Ohio Supreme Court adopted new policies and practices for Ohio's adult guardianship cases that took effect June 1. Union County Probate and Juvenile Court Judge Charlotte Coleman Eufinger explains the requirements and responsibilities of courts and guardians under the new rules.
On March 10, 2015, new Sup. R. 66.01 through 66.09 and amended Sup.R. 73 were adopted by the Supreme Court of Ohio. The rules make some major changes in the practice of guardianship law in Ohio. I have been asked to provide a short overview of the new rules which will become effective on June 1, 2015.
The new rules resulted from recommendations of the Supreme Court's Advisory Committee on Children and Families, and are based on the Standards of Practice for Guardianships developed by the National Guardianship Association as amended to comply with Ohio's laws and practices.
The purpose of the rules is to:
- Standardize guardianship practices throughout Ohio
- Elevate role of guardians, and
- Establish minimum guardianship standards or benchmarks
The Advisory Committee's guiding principles were:
- To respect judicial integrity and discretion
- To safeguard the personal and financial welfare and safety of adult wards.
Sup. R. 66.01 through 66.09 can be divided into 3 general topics:
- Sup. R. 66.01 and 66.02 apply to the overall scope of the rules
- Sup. R. 66.03, 66.04, and 66.05 discuss the requirements and responsibilities of the courts in adult guardianships
- Sup. R. 66.06 through 66.09 speak to the requirements and responsibilities of guardians
Additionally, Sup. R. 73 has been amended to provide a new provision concerning Guardians' Compensation.
Applicability of Rules
Sup. R. 66.01 provides definitions for new Rule 66, giving all parts of the Rule a common language. 66.01(A) defines best interest, direct services, Guardian, Ward, and guardianship services.
The rules only apply to adult Wards, and do not apply to minor guardianships.
And the rules apply to all guardians for Adult Wards, including guardians who are related to the Ward and Guardians who are not related to the Ward. Under Sup. R. 66.02 however, probate courts may for good cause exempt a guardian who is related to the ward by consanguinity or affinity.
The rules also apply to employees of corporations who provide guardianship services.
Requirements & Responsibilities of Courts
Sup R. 66.03 provides that probate courts adopt local rules regarding the establishment of guardianships. The new rules are not intended to impose undue burdens or limit probate courts' authority but rather, they support best practices to address situations courts often experience.
Specifically, under Sup. R. 66.03(A), the court is required to adopt local rules governing the establishment of emergency guardianships. The purpose of this Superintendence Rule is not to authorize emergency guardianships, which are already authorized by R. C. 2111.02(B)(3). But rather, for the probate court to articulate the process for establishing Emergency Guardianships. A local rule can provide clarity regarding the scope and breadth of an Emergency Guardianship.
Sup. R. 66.03 also requires that probate courts include a process for submitting comments and complaints regarding the performance of Guardians appointed by the court and a process whereby the court can consider such comments and complaints. The rules acknowledge the enormous power probate courts put in the hands of Guardians and as such the rules recognize the need for a local rule to establish a complaint and comment process to ensure the protection of the Ward's best interest.
The Ohio Probate Judge's Association is working on a model local rule that will be available to all of Ohio's probate judges.
The rules recognize that the dignity and autonomy of a Ward must always be observed, and as a result the powers granted to a Guardian should be carefu