What Are the Residency Requirements for Ohio Guardians?

Many of us are called upon at some point in our lives to name a guardian for someone who is vulnerable because of age or disability. It is important to consider residency requirements before making a choice.

Q.: Is there a general rule about the residency of guardians?

A.: The general rule is that a guardian for an Ohio resident must also be a resident of Ohio. One reason for such a rule is that it is very difficult to be an effective guardian for someone who lives far away.

Q.: Must parents name only an Ohio resident to serve as guardian of their minor children?

A.: No. There is an exception to the general rule for parents who name guardians for their minor children in a will. One of the most important reasons for parents to have a will is to name a guardian if they are no longer able to care for their children. Ohio law respects the right of parents to make this choice, and it recognizes that the person named as guardian will probably make the child a part of his or her own home--wherever that might be.

Q.: Are there other exceptions to the general rule?

A.: Yes. Ohio law allows a person to name a guardian for himself in either a durable power of attorney or in a written nomination which meets certain specific legal requirements, no matter where the proposed guardian lives. Ohio law also allows a minor over the age of 14 to select his or her own guardian.

Q.: What about a parent of an adult with a mental disability?

A.: There is no exception to the general rule for this situation. Guardians for Ohio residents over age 18 must live in Ohio. An Ohio guardian who moves to another state will no longer be recognized as a guardian in Ohio. Likewise, parents cannot name a sibling to serve as guardian if the sibling lives outside of Ohio.

Q.: What alternatives are available for handling the guardianship of an adult who needs assistance because of a disability?

A.: The parents or sibling might move the person with a disability to the state where they live and establish guardianship there. Some Ohio Probate Courts may also allow the nonresident family member to serve as a co-guardian with someone who continues to live in Ohio.

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Since parents are considered to be the natural guardians for their minor children, all other guardians must be appointed by a Probate Court. Letters of Guardianship are the official sign of such an appointment.

The information contained herein is general and should not be applied to specific legal problems without first consulting with one of our attorneys.


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