A guardianship is a legal relationship established by a court, which allows one person to make decisions for someone else. A guardian is appointed to someone (called a ward) when they are unable to take care of themselves due to age, sickness, or some other disability. Laws on guardianship differ from state to state, and in Texas, courts have the authority to appoint a guardian with either full or limited control over the affairs of their ward.

Once someone is appointed as a guardian, they have legal responsibilities they must carry out or risk being removed from their position by the court. These may include posting a bond as an insurance policy against a guardian putting a financial burden on the estate of their ward, managing said estate in the ward’s best interest, providing for a ward’s basic needs, filing an annual account that lays out the finances of the estate, and filing an inventory of their ward’s assets. It must be noted that having a guardian takes away some agency and rights of the ward, so it should only be done when it is truly in the ward’s best interest, and only with a trustworthy and responsible guardian.

What Are the Different Types of Guardianship? 

There are four different types of adult guardianship in Texas. These are guardianship of a person, guardianship of an estate, guardianship over both, and temporary or emergency guardianship. In all these cases, guardianship may either be limited, where a guardian has control over certain aspects of a ward but not others, or full, where a guardian has complete control over the ward’s affairs.

Guardianship of a person requires a guardian to provide care, supervision, food, shelter, clothing, and medical treatment to their ward. Guardianship of an estate means the guardian is responsible for managing the property and finances of their ward. Temporary guardianship is most often used with minor guardianship, but it can also apply to adults. A court may appoint an emergency guardian for an adult if there is substantial evidence that a person may be incapacitated or are an imminent danger to themselves or their estate.

When Is Adult Guardianship Necessary?

Because it is a drastic solution, guardianship should only be used if there are no other options. For adults to be appointed a guardian, they must have a disability or be at least 65 and be suffering abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Neglect, in this case, can either refer to when someone who is meant to be taking care of an elderly or disabled adult is not correctly doing their job or self-neglect when someone is unable to tend to their own needs properly.

For less severe cases, alternatives such as power of attorney, money management, or a trust may be preferable to guardianship. However, if a person is incapacitated, whether temporarily (such as through injury) or permanently, guardianship can be the best way to protect them and their estate.

How Do I Become a Guardian?

The best way to become a guardian is first to retain an attorney to represent you throughout the process. With the help of your lawyer, you must determine what type of guardianship you would like to seek and request that the court appoint you. The court will require medical documentation that indicates the person you wish to have guardianship over lacks the capacity to manage their own affairs. The court then makes the final decision on if guardianship is required and whether it ought to be full or limited.

For any questions you have about guardianship in the state of Texas, call an experienced attorney now at 281-771-0560.