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Frequently Asked Questions

Can anyone be a guardian?
No. Even though state statute requires that a guardian be at least 18 years of age, in Union County you must be 21 years of age or older, a resident of Ohio, and have not been charged with or convicted of a crime involving theft, physical violence, or sexual, alcohol or substance abuse. The court prefers that family members become the guardian when possible, but at times there is no family available or the family situation is inappropriate.

What kinds of things do guardians do?
Guardians of Person provide the following services:
  • Determine a ward’s suitable and appropriate living arrangements and arrange for successful relocation, if necessary.
  • Visit monthly or more regularly, as needed.
  • Identify and coordinate providers of direct services.
  • Attend care conferences in person or by teleconference.
  • Approve or deny authorization for medical treatment.
  • Be available for emergencies.
  • Assist with pre-paid funeral planning.
  • Prepare annual reports for Probate Court and quarterly reports for VGP.

Why is a Guardian needed?
A Guardian is appointed when a person is incapable of making decisions about some or all areas of life and is declared incompetent by the Probate Court. Among information submitted to the Court for evaluation is a “Statement of Expert Evaluation” completed by a medical doctor or a Ph.D. level psychologist that provides evidence of incompetency.

Who appoints a Guardian?
In Ohio guardianships are appointed by the Probate Court. It is a legal appointment. The Probate Court Judge is the superior guardian in all guardianship cases.

What is incompetence?
It is when a person is incapable of making decisions about some or all areas of life. Because of certain medical conditions, a developmental disability, mental retardation, dementia, mental illness, or the inability to communicate a person may not be able to take care of his or her own finances, make medical decisions, or understand the need for assistance with the activities of daily living.

Can a person regain competency after guardianship?
Yes, the individual, or any interested party, may request that the Court reconsider the person’s competency to make his/her own decisions about life. The ward is required to provide medical evidence of competency.

Can a person who lives outside of Union County be appointed guardian?
Yes, although they would have to reassure the Court that they will remain involved and be available for important decision-making.

Can a Ward challenge a guardianship?
Yes, any interested party may challenge a guardianship and ask the Court to review a guardianship.

How much does your service cost?
There is no fee if the ward is indigent. Funds for guardianship services for these individuals come from several sources such as the Union County Senior Services levy. The fee for private pay clients is $90 an hour, a fee which has been approved by the Union County Probate Court.

How else do you get funds to support your program?
In addition to the Union County Senior Services tax levy we are funded by the Mental Health & Recovery Board, Board of Developmental Disabilities, Union County Commissioners, Community Foundation of Union County, URE, and United Way among others and we accept donations from individuals, businesses, and churches.

Can a person under guardianship admit or discharge himself from a hospital or any other health related facility?
Legally, the Court appointed the Guardian to make the final decision for the person under guardianship and must be involved in any plans for admission and discharge.

What is the difference between a guardian and a Representative Payee for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI)?
The Social security Administration (SSA) can appoint a Representative Payee for someone who receives SSI or SSDI benefits if this would be in the person’s best interest due to mental or physical incapacity. Appointing a Representative Payee avoids a finding of legal incompetence and is limited to only handling the funds from the government benefits.

What is Power of Attorney (POA) for Health Care and how does it affect guardianship?
The POA is a document that a person can complete while they are still competent regarding future medical treatment and care. This is a formal document, which requires witnesses and which can be revoked provided the person is competent. A person under guardianship generally does not need a POA for healthcare.

How much of my time will be involved if I agree to volunteer?
As a volunteer guardian, two hours per month would generally be needed after the first month. We follow the National Guardianship Associations standards of practise and they recommend at least one visit per month. This time could be a combination of telephone and in-person contacts. Reporting requirements are minimal, but mandatory.

What can you tell me about the people who are in need of a volunteer?
The people who are referred to VGP must be adults, are most often indigent, lacking available or appropriate family and/or support systems, and may have a mental, developmental or physical disability as defined by law. Some reside in nursing homes or in some kind of assisted living.

What kinds of things would I be doing as a volunteer?
As a volunteer guardian your primary tasks would be health-related decision-making, placement-related decision-making, managing personal relationships issues, and advocating for your ward. Often volunteer guardians do special things for their wards — a drive in the country, coffee at McDonalds, if the guardian decides the ward is able.

What costs am I likely to incur if I volunteer?
You are not personally liable for any costs incurred by the ward that exceed the ward’s assets. You incur the travel and telephone costs of having contact with the ward, but there is mileage reimbursement if the guardian finds themselves in a financial hardship.

What do I do and who do I call if I run into a problem after I am a volunteer guardian?
In addition to information provided during the initial training session, you will also receive a volunteer manual. The manual may help with some problems, but a call to the Executive Director will help point you in the correct direction.

Why should I consider volunteering for UCGS?
Volunteering in this program will give you the opportunity to meet a need in your own community for an at-risk population. You will be able to reach out with a caring heart and hand to a person who likely is without family or close friends. You will gain experience in nurturing, advocating and caring for another person who otherwise would have no one in his or her life. Perhaps most importantly, you will receive satisfaction in making someone’s life better.

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