Guardianships are often a necessary legal tool to protect a loved one. At Sprouse Shrader Smith, we understand that all guardianship matters are different. Some guardianships are agreed matters, while others can be contested, time sensitive, and stressful. Our experienced team is dedicated to assisting you with the complicated legal process from start to finish with the proper filings and procedures.
What is a Guardian?
Guardianship is a court proceeding in the probate court in which a “guardian” is appointed by the court and given full or partial decision-making power over a “ward.” A proposed ward is the minor or incapacitated adult subject to the guardianship proceeding.
There are two distinct types of guardians in Texas: (1) guardian of the person, and (2) guardian of the estate.
The guardian of a person has the following responsibilities and duties:
- has access and the right to physical possession of the ward;
- provides and arranges medical assistance to ward; and
- is charged with taking care of the ward.
On the other hand, the guardian of the estate has the following responsibilities and duties:
- has possession of financial assets and handles the ward’s financial affairs;
- pays debts, handles bank accounts, and investments; and
- pursues legal actions and claims on ward’s behalf.
Who needs a Guardian?
Texas provides detailed rules for taking care of minors and incapacitated adults who are unable to take care of themselves physically and/or financially. The first step in the process is an application that must be completed and filed with the court. The application will contain factual information pertaining to the proposed ward and the circumstances leading up to the guardianship proceeding. Additionally, the applicant must explain to the court that alternatives to guardianship were evaluated, and determined not feasible. Examples of alternatives to guardianship include, supported decision-making agreements, power of attorney documents, and ABLE accounts.
After filing the application, the proposed ward is then given notice of the court proceeding and a separate attorney is appointed by the court to represent the proposed ward. The court will hold a hearing to determine if a guardianship is in the ward’s best interest, and if so, the court will also determine who will be appointed the guardian of the ward.
A certified Texas Guardianship lawyer can assist you with initiating a guardianship proceeding.