Rules for guardians in Ohio likely ready in 2015

The Ohio Supreme Court has stated that rules for standardized policies in adult guardianship cases will likely not be finalized until sometime in 2015, the Columbus Dispatch reports. In May 2014, the Court published proposed rules, which have been in development since 2007 when a subcommittee of the Court's Advisory Committee on Children and Families convened to begin drafting them. The Dispatch reports that during a period of public comment on the rules from May-June 2014 the Ohio Supreme Court received over 120 pages of comments from lawyers, judges, advocates and guardians. The comments have been sent to a subcommittee to review and incorporate into the final rules, which will then go through two more committees for approval before going before the justices again.

The proposed rules published in May would apply only in cases where a professional or attorney is appointed as guardian for an adult requiring these services, not when the guardian is a family member. According to the Dispatch, however, Julia Nack, a certified master guardian working on the committee redrafting the rules reported that a surprising number of the public comments requested that the rules apply to all individuals serving as guardians. If these changes are incorporated into the rules, it could impact the content of training that is currently in development for guardians, which is expected to be ready for testing by spring.

The Dispatch reports that original subcommittee member Michael Kirkman of Disability Rights Ohio is concerned that the delay in publishing the rules and the repeated trips to subcommittee for review will be detrimental to the finished product, diluting the original intent of the drafters. The Court has said the rules will be ready in 2015.

In addition to the forthcoming finalized rules, there is also legislation pending in the Ohio legislature which offers protections for adult wards in guardianship situations. H.B. 624, proposed by Rep. Dorothy Pelanda (R) in September, provides a bill of rights for wards and requires that probate courts furnish guardians a guide developed by the Ohio Attorney General at certain specified times. If passed, the legislation and rules would serve to complement each other.