Why is it Vital to Secure the Services of an Experienced Lawyer in a Contested Texas Guardianship Case?
If an adult is unable to look after their personal affairs or finances due to incapacitation, it may be necessary to name a guardian who can handle these decisions on their behalf. The procedure for appointing a guardian is established in the Texas Estates Code § 1101. The individual petitioning to become a guardian is usually a spouse, family member, or close friend of the proposed ward.
Unfortunately, heated disputes sometimes arise about the need for a guardian or how to best administer the guardianship. These disagreements can lead to contested guardianship proceedings where both sides present their cases in court, and a judge determines what actions are in the proposed ward’s best interests.
If you are involved in a contested guardianship case, it is crucial to speak with a Texas guardianship lawyer as soon as possible. The procedures and requirements set out in the state’s statutes make these cases highly complex and nearly impossible for individuals to navigate on their own. With so much at stake, retaining strong, compassionate legal counsel is strongly recommended.
Why Might a Guardianship Be Contested?
Guardianships are supposed to ensure the well-being and financial security of an individual who is vulnerable due to their inability to provide for their basic needs, manage their finances, or look after their health. A guardian must be highly responsible and not only make good choices on behalf of the ward but also fulfill the strict reporting duties required by law. Choosing an individual for this role can be contentious, and the ward or other interested parties may have strong opinions about who should or should not be appointed. Other times, the proposed ward or their family may dispute the need for a guardian at all.
A guardianship can be contested before the appointment of the guardian or any time after the guardian has been named if there is good reason. The following are some of the most common situations that can lead to a contested guardianship case:
Disagreements Over Necessity of Guardianship
Removing an individual’s right to make important life decisions is a drastic step that should only be undertaken when absolutely necessary to protect their financial and physical well-being. When a guardianship is created or proposed, it is not uncommon for a family member, a spouse, or the ward themselves to dispute the need for a guardian.
Whether you are attempting to prevent or end a guardianship or are trying to make sure your loved one is getting the care and help they need, it’s critical to seek the assistance of a knowledgeable lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can help organize medical evaluations, gather evidence of the proposed ward’s current capabilities, and determine whether guardianship or another legal solution would best fit your situation.
Disputes over Scope of Guardianship
The powers granted to a guardian can be very broad or quite limited, depending on the judge’s assessment of the ward’s needs. Some guardianships only cover the ward’s financial affairs, while others allow the guardian to make health decisions and change living arrangements for the ward. The ward, guardian, or other interested parties may contest the scope of the guardianship if they believe it is inappropriate for the circumstances. Your lawyer can help you clearly define the guardianship powers you believe are proper for the situation and present your argument to the court.
Questions About the Fitness of a Current or Proposed Guardian
Some of the most emotionally charged guardianship contests arise when allegations of abuse, neglect, or other inappropriate conduct are lodged against the guardian. Those filing the contest must provide adequate proof of their accusations for the court to take action. Alternatively, accused guardians must mount a stringent defense of their actions to remain in their position. In either case, the skilled guidance of a guardianship lawyer is necessary to help you wade through the complex legal requirements for settling this type of disagreement.
What Challenges Can You Face in a Contested Guardianship?
Even if all the parties involved are on the same page, initiating or making changes to a guardianship for a loved one can be a complicated and emotional process. If disputes arise during the proceedings, it is crucial to seek the assistance of a trusted lawyer to ensure the proposed ward’s interests are centered and protected. An experienced lawyer also brings a calm and clear outside perspective to the process. This can help de-escalate the situation and maintain essential relationships between the individuals who will likely play a pivotal role in supporting and caring for the proposed ward, no matter the case’s outcome.
Unfortunately, a contested guardianship can sometimes result in painful and costly legal battles. Litigating a guardianship dispute can take many months, and appeals are possible. Ultimately, the guardianship determination is in the hands of the judge, and they will make their ruling based on the information provided by both sides. Judges have a duty to act in the best interests of the proposed ward, and there is a risk in an ugly court battle that they may decide that neither side is fit to serve as a guardian due to their actions.
How Can a Guardianship Lawyer Assist You?
A lawyer can help you weigh the risks and challenges of contesting a guardianship and determine the best course of action for your situation. They may also suggest alternatives to litigation, such as engaging in mediation or utilizing less restrictive methods of protecting your loved one’s health and finances. At The Hatchett Law Firm, we understand that this is likely a very challenging time for your family, and we are committed to providing compassionate legal services you can count on. Our lawyers’ extensive knowledge of the state’s legal system and the options available can prove invaluable in reaching the best possible outcome for your case. Contact our office today to schedule your free case evaluation: 281-771-0560.