- Elder and Abuse
- Name Change
The paternal grandmother of my client's four year old daughter falsified an Application for Guardianship in order to insure my client could not defend against losing custody of her daughter. The grandmother then had my client arrested for Interference with Custody based on that fraud. She spent a night in jail for something she never knew occurred.
I first took the guardianship to trial. The probate court found that the grandmother had perpetrated a fraud on the Court. The Court also found that the grandmother's actions in causing the criminal prosecution was unconscionable.
The criminal charge was then dismissed.
It took us about four hours and required the cooperation of two police departments in order to find the missing daughter and reunite her with her mother.
My client's daughter decided she had enough. A local police department had been calling to complain about my client who had gone off her medication. She was causing a problem in her neighborhood. Daughter decided to obtain guardianship over her mother with the goal of removing her from her home. My client was to be placed in a nursing home.
My client ended up in Lutheran Hospital's geriatric psychiatric ward. The good doctors at Lutheran were able to determine that my client couldn't afford the brand name prescriptions she had been prescribed. Generic prescriptions were available at a small fraction of the cost. My client stabilized on the new medicine and showed no symptoms of her prior illness.
I was able to argue that my client's basic rights to determine her own affairs should not be removed. After a second examination my client's daughter's attempt to obtain guardianship was denied. My client was free to control her own affairs. She returned to her own home.
Guardianships are normally one-way streets. Once you are subject to a guardianship, you are locked in forever. The Columbus Dispatch did a great article about this which is available here. A PDF of that article is here.
When a person can no longer manage his or her own life, and other options that are less restrictive are not available, then the court may appoint a person to make decisions for another person.
In order to obtain a guardianship, one must apply at the probate court for the county in which the person needing help lives. That application requires that a medical report be prepared and accompany the application.
Guardianship of the person pertains to those issues surrounding the day-to-day needs of the ward. Food, clothing, medical treatment and living arrangements are examples of the decisions left the guardian of the person.
This involves decisions of a financial nature. You are taking care of the ward's estate. This is much more complicated and requires bookkeeping and auditing skills.
A power of attorney can be limited or broad. It can allow another to completely control your life. It can be restricted so that only one small task is given to the other person.
If a person is having problems managing their Social Security of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, a representative payee can be appointed. Even if there is no family or friends, there are qualified organizations that can help.
The local developmental disability board can help.
If in a nursing home, the Ohio Department of Aging has an ombudsman who can help. Elder abuse should be reported to the county department of jobs and family services.
These orders keep people who are threatening or hurting another person away.
A trust can be used to handle funds. A trustee would be appointed to oversee the trust.
A conservator can be appointed by the court to manage certain aspects of the life of a mentally competent adult. If a person is mentally competent but has a physical disability, the person can ask the court
A person who is appointed to look after the affairs of another is called a guardian. The person affected is the ward.
This gives the guardian control over the financial decisions of the ward.
This gives the guardian control over everything else, outside of finances. Where the person lives, whether they are hospitalized, food, clothing and all other life issues are controlled by the guardian.
Here the guardian controls everything about the ward.
The court issues any order it considers necessary to prevent injury to the person or the person's estate. The court may appoint a guardian without prior notice to the person and without a hearing. This requires an emergency and evidence of incompetence. The order lasts for seventy-two hours. The order can be extended for no more than thirty days.
This is a guardian appointed to take the place of a guardian who can no longer serve and the estate requires an immediate appointment.
When two people are appointed guardian for someone at the same time.
If the person is both incompetent and has a need, it may appoint a guardian over only a portion of the ward's affairs. This might be for placement issues, medicine, medical procedures or other such limited uses.
A mental health agency disagreed with the way my client was maintaining the guardianship of her son. That the guardianship was needed was not at issue. The agency wanted to take over the guardianship.
The file was a mess. The Statements of Expert Evaluation by the mental health agency was highly suspect of being incorrect. It appeared the prior hearings were nothing more than a circus of accusation and counter-accusation.
It is critical you have an attorney at these hearings! Your words must be heard but unless an attorney can take your words and translate them into the format that pertains to guardianship, your words will be lost.
I was able to parse out the real issues and bring both my client and the mental health agency together across a table. It was clear that the mental health agency could help the ward and the guardian. I made it clear to the mental health agency that my client would be shown to be the best choice for guardian. I made it clear that my client's issues would be addressed. Once everyone was on the same page, peace ensued and a plan was hammered out to provide the best care possible for the ward.
The attack by the mental health agency was dismissed and my client was able to continue her guardianship assuring the best possible care of her son.