Protecting a Proposed Ward: How to Become a Legal Guardian in Texas

Last updated on: June 18, 2024

There are many different reasons why you might need to become another adult’s legal guardian. Some may be looking to protect older family members who experience Alzheimer’s or dementia. Others wish to defend the interests of an adult friend or relative who cannot communicate due to incapacitation. Still others might need to protect someone who is not mentally fit enough to care for themselves or their finances. If you’re exploring how to become a legal guardian in Texas, we will cover:

  • 3 types of guardianship
  • Full vs. limited guardianship
  • Permanent vs. temporary guardianship
  • Step-by-step procedures to becoming a guardian

Take control and secure the well-being of your loved ones with the assistance of a skilled Houston guardianship attorney. At The Law Office of Whitney L. Thompson, our experienced and compassionate attorneys can help you understand your guardianship duties and address the potential complications of guardianship cases in Texas. From understanding the intricacies of Texas guardianship laws to advocating for the best interests of your loved ones, our attorneys are dedicated to assisting in the guardianship process. Call us today at (281) 214-0173 to schedule a consultation and secure the future of your family.

Guardianship in Texas

A guardianship is a legal arrangement established and overseen by a court, where the rights of a person (referred to as the ward) are transferred to another individual (known as the guardian). This arrangement is commonly pursued for incapacitated adults in Texas, rather than children. Legal incapacity refers to a person’s significant inability, due to a physical or mental condition, to adequately provide for their own basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, and personal health, or manage their financial affairs by themselves.

Two types of guardianship exist in Texas: Guardianship of the Person and Guardianship of the Estate. 

  • A Guardian of the Person is awarded authority over the ward’s personal matters, which encompass decisions related to housing, medical care, and education.
  • A Guardian of the Estate is awarded the responsibility of overseeing the ward’s property and finances. It is important to remember that a Guardian of the Estate has a fiduciary duty to their ward and must prioritize the ward’s best interests over their own.

It is possible for an individual to hold both the positions of guardian of the person and guardian of the estate simultaneously. If a guardian breaches the fiduciary duty they have, they may be subject to legal action which can result in the end of the guardianship or the transfer of the guardianship to another party.

If you need assistance with guardianship matters in Texas, a Houston guardianship attorney is an invaluable asset. Whether you want to establish, modify, or address concerns regarding a guardianship case, an attorney’s extensive knowledge and experience in Texas guardianship laws can provide the necessary guidance and support. Reach out to The Law Office of Whitney L. Thompson today and take the essential steps to ensure the future security of your loved ones.

3 Types of Guardianship

Before you decide to pursue legal action to become a guardian, we must consider the different types of guardianship in Texas.

Guardian of the Person

As a guardian of the person, you make personal decisions on behalf of your adult ward. That means you legally have the right to:

  • Determine where the ward resides
  • Place the ward within a nursing home
  • Consent to medical treatment on their behalf
  • Allow or forbid their travel plans
  • Make other non-financial decisions

Guardian of the Estate

When you act as a guardian of a ward’s estate, you may exercise the right to:

  • Pay their bills
  • Invest their money
  • Sign contracts on their behalf
  • File lawsuits on their behalf
  • Apply for benefits on their behalf
  • Take care of other financial matters

Guardianship of the Person and the Estate

If you become a guardian of the person and the estate, you make both financial and non-financial decisions for your ward.

Type of Guardianship Description
Guardian of the Person Makes personal decisions for the adult ward, including residence, nursing home placement, medical treatment, etc.
Guardian of the Estate Manages financial matters for the ward, such as bill payments, investments, contracts, lawsuits, etc.
Guardianship of the Person and the Estate Makes both financial and personal decisions for the ward, combining the responsibilities of the other two types.

Full vs. Limited Guardianship

When it comes to guardianship of the person or the estate, you may have full or limited capabilities. In full guardianship, a ward loses all of their rights to legally make decisions for themselves. In a limited guardianship, a ward may retain certain rights such as the right to divorce or to sell their property. A judge will usually decide the limitations.

Permanent vs. Temporary Guardianship

If an adult is incapacitated due to a temporary injury, for instance, they may need a temporary guardian for a certain amount of time. After that time, the person may assume their legal rights to make decisions for themselves.

If an adult is permanently incapacitated, they will likely need an enduring arrangement to ensure that they are cared for properly, which will prompt a permanent guardianship.

In Texas, establishing legal guardianship is a formal procedure that requires initiating a court process. This starts with filing a guardianship application in the appropriate court. In bigger counties, this is usually handled by the Probate Court, whereas in smaller counties without a Probate Court, the application should be submitted to the County Court or County Court at Law.

The application needs to clearly state why guardianship is necessary, providing comprehensive details about the individual’s condition and their inability to handle their personal and financial matters. Medical or psychological evaluations to substantiate the claim of incapacity must accompany the application.

After the application is submitted, the court reviews the documents and schedules a hearing. During this hearing, the court examines the evidence and listens to testimonies to decide if guardianship is suitable for the individual’s needs. It also evaluates whether the proposed guardian is appropriate and capable of effectively managing the responsibilities involved.

If the guardianship is approved, the court issues an order naming the guardian, who is then authorized to make decisions for the individual as directed by the court’s guidelines. This guardianship must be registered with the Judicial Branch Certification Commission (JBCC), a requirement that ensures transparency and proper oversight of guardianships throughout the state.

Adhering to these regulations is essential for maintaining the integrity and effectiveness of the guardianship arrangement. An experienced Houston guardianship attorney can facilitate the process and help you safeguard the interests of your loved ones in accordance with state laws and regulations.

1) Hire an attorney. Since you are not allowed to legally represent your proposed ward, you will need to call a lawyer to represent their interests.

2) Acquire a Certificate of Medical Examination. A physician will need to determine that the ward is incapacitated and unable to make their own decisions.

3) Have your lawyer submit a guardianship application to your county court.

4) Complete your guardianship training, obtain a background check, and register the guardianship through the Judicial Branch Certification Commission (JBCC).

3) If it is necessary and you are deemed fit to become a guardian, a judge may appoint you as a guardian of the person or estate (or both) and dictate the terms of the arrangement.

To become a guardian, you are legally required to obtain an attorney for the process. Contact a skilled guardianship lawyer to ensure your success. Reach out to Whitney Thompson, Esq. for a consultation at (281) 214-0173 today.

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