The Franklin County Volunteer Guardian Program was initiated by the Franklin County Probate Court to address the increasing number of requests from local nursing homes for court-appointed guardians for some of their residents. The Guardian Program, administered by the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging (COAAA), recruits, screens, trains and matches volunteer guardians to low income persons in need of someone to act in their ward's best interests.
The Columbus Bar Association's Lawyers for Justice Program (LFJ) has been involved in the Guardian Program since its inception in March 1994. Volunteer attorneys agree to accept up to two (2) court appointments per year through the Volunteer Guardian Program (VGP). Each case takes about 4-5 hours of the volunteer attorney's time.
The volunteer is the attorney of record and advises the guardian of his/her responsibilities. LFJ contacts the volunteer attorney about assisting a particular prospective guardian identified by COAAA. COAAA staff begins the court papers, completes them and delivers them to the volunteer attorney's office once he or she has agreed to assist a prospective guardian. COAAA staff then takes the completed court papers to the attorney's office. COAAA staff then informs the volunteer guardian who his/her attorney is, gives the guardian the phone number and address of the volunteer attorney, and asks the guardian to make an appointment with his/her volunteer attorney to sign the papers. Once the guardian has signed the papers, the volunteer attorney files them with the Probate Court and informs the volunteer guardian and COAAA staff of the hearing date. On the day of the hearing, the COAAA staff meet the volunteer guardian and attorney, and all attend the hearing. The volunteer guardian, attorney and COAAA staff all receive copies of the Letter of Authority.
Once the volunteer guardian has officially been appointed, the volunteer attorney agrees to consult with the volunteer guardian for infrequent legal questions concerning his/her relationship to the ward. Every two years the volunteer guardian must submit a Biennial Report, along with and current Statement of Expert Evaluation, to the Court. COAAA staff sends the forms to the volunteer guardian and doctor two months before the filing due date. The completed forms are sent back to COAAA one month prior to due date and staff files them with the Probate Court. Copies of the filed forms are sent to the volunteer guardian and their attorney.
When a ward passes away the COAAA staff sends the volunteer guardian an Application for Termination of Guardianship. When the completed form is returned the COAAA staff files it with the Probate Court. COAAA staff then sends copies of the filed form to the volunteer guardian and their attorney for their records.
LFJ offers free professional liability coverage to any volunteer attorney who does not have coverage of his or her own. For more information or to volunteer, please contact She'lia Bolding at 614/221.4112 or e-mail email@example.com.