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Brittany Spears has brought guardianships into the news. While there are slight variations from state to state there are similarities.

A guardian is appointed by the court to oversee the personal care, legal and/or financial affairs of a minor (child) or of an adult who is not able to manage his or her own affairs because of youth, advanced age or physical or mental disability.

A guardian is most often a person, but can be an association/corporation appointed by a probate court to be legally responsible for an individual and/or the individual’s property. The guardian is called a ward. In both minor and adult guardianships (or conservatorships) the object is to insure the best interests of the ward.

Under Ohio law, a guardianship is an involuntary proceeding initiated by family members or others who ask the probate court to protect someone who appears incompetent.  Children, by being a child, are considered to be incompetent to handle their own affairs.

Sometimes guardianships are voluntary

Voluntary guardianship is sometimes used when referring to a legal conservatorship, but it is not a legal term. Conservatorships are when a physically infirm, but otherwise competent adult, has a guardian/conservator appointed to provide proper care for him/her and management of the individual’s (ward’s) affairs.

Control of a guardian over a ward is limited to the authority granted by law and the rules of the probate court. The guardian must obey the law and orders/judgments of the probate court. The court may confer broad, far-reaching powers on a guardian or limit or deny powers.

A guardian of the person is appointed to protect a ward, provide for the ward’s day-to-day care and arrange payment from the ward’s assets. Care includes food, shelter, clothing, health care and other necessities; responsibility for the education of a minor ward as required by state law; and making decisions about medical treatment or other professional services required.

A guardian of an adult ward also serves as guardian of the ward’s minor children, if there is no other guardian.

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