Becoming a legal guardian carries with it significant responsibility, whether you are a guardian for an adult who lacks capacity or a child who needs care. As a guardian, you have the legal responsibility to make health, financial, and other personal decisions on behalf of individuals who cannot make these decisions themselves.
Keep reading to learn more about legal guardianship in Texas.
How Does a Guardianship Work in Texas?
First, let’s understand how guardianship works in Texas.
Texas law defines an “incapacitated person” as a child under the age of 18, an adult who cannot substantially care for themselves because of a physical or mental condition, or an individual who must have a legal guardian appointed to initially receive governmental funds.
Let’s look at some examples.
Because of illness or injury, some adults may not have the capacity to make some or all decisions on their own behalf. However, capacity is not black and white. For example, an adult with a learning disability may not be able to make financial decisions for themselves, but they can make daily decisions as to their own care.
On the other hand, a child may lose a parent, requiring a guardian to make decisions on their behalf. Where the child may be capable of going to school, attending extracurricular activities, and caring for their personal needs (such as taking a bath and dressing themselves), as a minor, the child cannot legally make decisions as to their health care or education.
In these instances, a guardian may be appointed by a Texas court to help these individuals (or “wards”) live full, healthy lives.
What Are the Different Types of Texas Guardianship?
In Texas, the following types of legal guardianship exist:
- Guardianship of the Person: When a Texas court awards guardianship of the person, this means that the legal guardian is responsible for providing supervision, care, food, clothing, shelter, and medical treatment for the ward. This may be a full guardianship, meaning the guardian takes over all of these responsibilities, or a partial guardianship, meaning the guardian takes over some of these responsibilities, depending on the ward’s capacity.
- Guardianship of the Estate: When a Texas court awards guardianship of the estate, this means that the legal guardian is responsible for managing the property and finances for the ward. Like guardianship of the person, this may be a full guardianship, meaning the guardian takes over all of these responsibilities, or a partial guardianship, meaning the guardian takes over some of these responsibilities, depending on the ward’s capacity.
- Temporary Guardian: Finally, a Texas court may appoint a temporary guardian to care for the ward while the court makes a more permanent decision.
In Texas, one person may be appointed as the guardian of the person, and another person may be appointed for the estate.
How Do You Apply to Become a Guardian in Texas?
To become a guardian in Texas, you’ll first file an application with your local probate court (or another court, depending on where the ward lives). After receiving your guardianship application, the court will appoint an attorney for the ward, making sure that the ward’s best interests are served with you as guardian.
However, if the court decides that a less restrictive arrangement than guardianship is available, such as health or financial power of attorney, the court will generally pursue this option.
If you’re considering legal guardianship for a loved one, it’s best to have the help of a skilled Texas guardianship attorney to help you navigate this legal process. At Norris & Weber, our experienced and compassionate attorneys are dedicated to protecting you and your family.
If you are facing difficult matters related to guardianship, you can rely on our firm to defend your best interests and help make times like this go as smoothly as possible. Our attorneys share over 85 years of experience and are ready to put their knowledge on your side.