What Types of Guardianships are Available in Texas?

America’s founders established our great nation on the principle that all men are created equal.  But unfortunately, not all of us have an equal ability to exercise our rights.  Children, for example, are legally unable to speak for themselves, and many of our brothers, sisters, and parents live with conditions that limit their capacities to take care of themselves. Guardianships are an important tool for ensuring that these people enjoy the rights of being an American.

In Texas, guardianships are generally divided into two categories: guardianships of the person, and guardianships of the estate.  In many cases, however, the same person will be appointed as both guardian of the person and of the estate. If you are considering a guardianship, talk with an experienced guardianships lawyer so you can be certain you make the right decision.

What is a Guardian of the Person?

A guardian of the person is appointed to take responsibility for his or her ward’s physical wellbeing.  For example, a guardian of the person would be responsible for ensuring the ward’s medical needs are addressed, and he or she has access to the personal items and services needed for everyday life.  Guardians of the person provide consent to medical care, make decisions with regards to services the ward will receive, and can make binding legal decisions on the ward’s behalf.

What is a Guardian of the Estate?

A guardian of the estate is charged with taking care of his or her ward’s property, financial, and legal affairs.  This includes basic responsibilities such as paying the bills as well as more substantial decisions, for instance managing the ward’s investments and other assets.  A guardian of the estate owes a fiduciary duty to his or her ward, meaning the guardian is held to a high standard that requires him or her to act in the ward’s best interest.  Guardians of the estate are also generally required to file an annual report with the court accounting for the ward’s assets and finances.

What limitations are placed on guardianships?

Because guardians are appointed by the court, they are supervised by the court.  Many decisions a guardian might make require court approval; for instance, a guardian may not sell any of the ward’s property without court approval.  And although guardians are granted substantial control over their wards’ affairs, they have limited control over the wards themselves.  For example, guardians cannot force their wards to take medication or enter mental health facilities.

Who can be a guardian in guardianships?

Texas law makes efforts to appoint the most appropriate person available as the ward’s guardian.  In cases where the ward is an adult who has become incapacitated but has made his or her preference known as to who should be appointed, the court will give consideration to the ward’s wishes.  If a person’s spouse becomes incapacitated, he or she would typically be appointed as the guardian.  If the ward is not married, a family member is often appointed.  In some circumstances, the court can appoint an institution such as a bank as guardian of the estate.

If someone you care about may need a guardian, it’s important to speak with an experienced attorney.  A guardianship is a very invasive method of assisting a person, and in many cases there are other solutions that can be equally effective.  And when a guardianship is necessary, an attorney is typically required to prepare and file the paperwork.  If you have questions about guardianships and would like to speak with an attorney, contact the Law Office of Carey Thompson today to arrange a free confidential case consultation.