Volunteer Guardianship Program


Mission of the Volunteer Program of 50 North

The Mission of the Volunteer Guardianship Program of 50 North is to enhance the quality of life of adults living in Hancock County who have been deemed by the Probate Court to be incompetent, by providing qualified legal guardians, of the person only, for individuals 50 and older, in residential settings such as nursing homes or group homes.  Volunteer Guardians serve as advocates and as surrogate decision-makers in these situations, ensuring the needs of the adult are being met.

There may come a time in the lives of some individuals in our community when, due to disease, mental illness, or substance abuse, they are no longer capable of managing themselves (their “person”), their property and assets (their “estate”) or both.

To read more, click on the “+” below.

Under Ohio law, such a person is said to be incompetent. These individuals are in desperate need of having someone come along side of them, to treat them with dignity and respect and to assist them in making basic decisions in life that most of us take for granted, like where are they going to live, what medical care are they going to need, etc. A finding of incompetency by the Probate Court will result in the appointment of a guardian to assist the “ward” thus establishing a legal relationship called a guardianship.

There are three basic forms of guardianships. They are: guardians of the estate, guardians of the person and guardians of the person and the estate. Generally, a person who is appointed a guardian of the estate is charged with all decision making and management of their ward’s financial affairs. This includes, but is not limited to, collecting money owed to the ward, make payments on behalf of the ward, managing and overseeing their assets and providing for their care and maintenance.

A guardian of the person is responsible for the medical care, health and well-being of the ward. The guardian of the person is responsible for seeking services that will help the ward reach or maintain his or her highest degree of functionality in the least restrictive environment as possible. The guardian is also responsible for assuring that the ward’s rights and dignity are defended. Some of the decisions a guardian of the person will make for the ward will relate to such issues as medical and surgical services, rehabilitative services, recreational services and residence. A guardian of the person will also be required to give consents on behalf of their ward for receiving medical services, surgery, receiving non-residential services such as counseling, education, vocational rehabilitation, releasing confidential records, releasing others (ie. providers) from liability such as photographs, field trips, special activities and the like, and receiving residential services (ie. placement).

A person who is designated a guardian of the person and the estate has responsibility for all of these functions on the ward’s behalf.

Become a Volunteer Guardian

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer guardian, contact 50 North or click on the following link to obtain an application.

Upon turning in an application, you will be interviewed and a background check will be conducted. Once these 3 steps have been completed, you will be required to complete an initial 6 hour training, either in person, via a web broadcast, or taking it online individually.  Every year after that, you will be required to complete a 3 hour course to update your training.  Information about how to access and locate available trainings is provided.  Call 50 North for questions about the program.

Volunteer Guardianship Program Application Form
To view information on the Guardianship program, click the title on the left.
The Volunteer Guardianship Program is only involved in Guardianship of the Person cases and will not be in control of or responsible for any of the ward’s finances (the Estate). Some of the responsibilities of a guardian of the person are as follows:

Seeing that the basic needs of the ward are being met and insure that he or she is living and functioning in the least restrictive environment possible.


Seeking services that will help the ward reach or maintain the highest possible potential.


Authorize, or approve of the provision of, medical care, counseling or other treatment.


Execute releases of information, liability, etc., on the ward’s behalf.


Make end of life decisions for the benefit of the ward
A more detailed job description of a volunteer guardian is set forth below.


Guardians are appointed by Probate Court to make or help make health-care and residential decisions the ward is unable to make independently, and to assure that the person’s rights and dignity as a person are defended.

Fulfill all Probate Court requirements, specifically to:

a. Attend court hearings and follow the Oath of Guardianship

b. Submit the Guardian’s Report and Statement of Expert Evaluation biennially (every two years), with the assistance of the Coordinator of the Volunteer Guardianship Program.

In all medical and placement decisions, function as a surrogate family and advocate for the ward.

Introduce yourself to the residential facility staff and present your copy of letter of guardianship to ensure that all recognize your role in making decisions on behalf of your ward.

a. Provide copy of guardianship letter to be included in ward’s medical chart/records.
b. Provide VGP contact information with list of contact numbers.

Visit ward regularly to observe and note any and all indications of health status and general well being. As your ward’s advocate, you will need to:
a. Address with specific staff members, doctors, and residential administration any service needs or concerns.
b. Attend care conferences held quarterly.

Notify VGP staff of any deficiencies or concerns not remedied in a timely manner.
Complete quarterly volunteer reports noting activities and ward’s health and well-being and keep a log of your activities as guardian.
Participate in quarterly VGP meeting and other training opportunities.

Notify residential facility, the attorneys of record, and VGP office of changes in your contact information, including short-term occasions when you cannot be reached by your usual telephone number or address or when you will be out of town for more than 24 hours

Prospective Volunteer Guardians must attend both sessions to be eligible for appointment. Please complete a Volunteer Application Form and return it to Tammie Mattis; a link to print the form is available below.

After the initial orientation and training provided to new volunteers to the program, ongoing training will be provided by 50 North to all volunteers on a regular basis. The VGP will provide a one to one and a half hour continuing education session on a quarterly basis. Volunteers in the program will be required to attend at least two of the four sessions each year (at least one additional session to the Orientation and Training in the first year of volunteering). These sessions will include topics and speakers of interest to guardians and provide an opportunity for questions and answers with the VGP Coordinator and with other volunteers. Please feel free to contact the VGP Coordinator if you have suggestions for topics to be covered in these ongoing training sessions.

Under the law of this state, to be appointed by the Court as a guardian, you must be

  • a resident of this State
  • at least 18 years of age (our program requires our volunteer to be at least 21 years of age)
  • a law abiding citizen
Usually a family member or close friend will be the first choice of the Court to be appointed to serve as a guardian. For a wide variety of reasons, however, there continue to be cases where no suitable person either exists or is willing and able to serve as the guardian.

In the past, the Court has turned to local attorneys to serve as guardians in these cases, however, the number of such cases has grown to the point that local attorneys cannot absorb all of them.

This program is designed to fill that void. The Volunteer Guardianship Program of 50 North is designed to meet the needs of individuals in our community who need assistance making decisions that affect their lives. Initially the program will be concentrating on individuals in our community who are 50 years of age and older. The program will recruit, screen, train and support guardians for our county residents who require a court appointed guardian. Our volunteer guardians will only be the guardians of “the person”. This means that no money or financial assets of the client will be administered by this program.

Please consider giving your time and talents to assist us in helping those who cannot help themselves.

There has been a growing realization over  the past ten years or more, that some sort of guardianship program was needed in Hancock County to provide volunteers to serve as guardians for those individuals who were no longer able to make basic decisions for themselves.

There have been previous efforts to establish such a program, including Hancock County GIVE Program, but none of them had sufficient financial backing or permanent paid staff members to permit them to continue indefinitely.

In 2003, Hancock County Probate Court Judge Allan H. Davis, concerned by the growing need for guardians and the lack of a sufficient number of individuals available for appointment in that capacity, spearheaded a forum attended by representatives of a broad cross section of the local elder-care and mental health agencies. After the committee had reviewed the need for such a program and having set out a course of action, 50 North agreed to oversee this program given that a significant number of individuals who would need the services of a guardian are elderly and a part of the population that the organization already has a mission to serve.

In September of 2005, 50 North obtained a three year grant from the Findlay/Hancock Community Foundation to assist in the cost of establishing such a program. After several months of developing training manuals, creating forms and establishing policies and procedures, the recruiting, screening and training of volunteers began in the spring of 2006.

The Volunteer Guardianship Program of 50 North is operated in partnership with the Hancock County Probate Court. The program is a member of the Ohio Guardianship Association and the National Guardianship Association.

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