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Christene (Chris) Krupa Downs
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Conservatorship vs Guardianship: Understanding the Differences

Christene Krupa DownsReviewsout of 7 reviews
Christene (Chris) Krupa Downs
Rated by Super Lawyers


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Conservatorship vs GuardianshipConservatorships and guardianships aren’t the same, so it’s important to know which term applies to your situation. When there is an incapacitated adult in question, such as someone who has advanced Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, you should be looking for guardianship.

Conservatorships do not involve adults in Texas, which does differ from some other states. Conservatorships are for children, usually under the age of 18, and refer to determining who will make decisions about a child’s care and upbringing following a separation or divorce. 

What Is a Conservatorship?

A conservatorship in Texas refers to the person who has been ordered custody of a child. They are called a conservator. In other states, this may be known as the legal custodian or legal guardian of a child. Though a conservatorship may also be a person ordered to care for an adult ward’s finances in states outside of Texas, it does not apply within Texas. Instead, guardianships are used. 

What Should You Know About Guardianships In Texas?

Guardianships can be used for adults in Texas. There is no such thing as a conservatorship of an adult in this state.

In2 court, guardianship cases tend to be heard in a county court, also known as a probate court, but conservatorship cases go to the district courts (family courts).

What Kinds of Guardianship Are There In Texas?

There are two main kinds of guardianships in Texas. It’s important to define the differences between them. These include:

Guardianship of the estate: A guardian of the estate is granted to watch over the estate belonging to a ward. This includes looking over the person’s property and financial needs. Guardianships of the estate are common when a person needs help making long-term decisions financially but may not need much help in day-to-day life.

Guardianship of the person: This guardianship is assigned to ensure that a ward receives the physical support they need in day-to-day life. The guardian will make sure they are cared for by helping with medications, for example, or assisting them in getting to their doctor’s appointments.

When Would Someone Need a Guardianship in Texas?

Guardianships happen when a person is found to be incapacitated by the court. There is a formal court process that will need to occur before that can happen.

Once an adult is deemed incapacitated, there has to be an application for guardianship. There will also be a hearing that an appointment of the guardian if they are found to be suitable.

How Long Does a Guardianship Last?

A guardianship lasts as long as it is necessary. They may be short – or long-term arrangements. The court does monitor guardianships and will determine if and when the individual no longer needs a guardian.

Are There Alternatives to Guardianship Families Should Know About?

Yes, there are alternatives to guardianship in some cases. Remember that guardianships do compromise the ward’s rights, so there may be a case to be made that a less drastic option would work better.

One possibility is to seek a power of attorney, which would allow the agent to work on the principal’s (the ward in a guardianship) behalf. General power of attorney rights enables the agent to control the person’s financial affairs during their life but end at death.

Another option is supported decision-making, which can be a formal or informal process. With this, the individual will continue making their own decisions but will get the support of their loved ones when doing so.

Contact Krupa Downs Law, PLLC

If you are looking into a guardianship for someone you love and care about, it’s important to take this seriously. A guardianship will restrict their rights, so it’s worth looking into alternatives and deciding if a guardianship is really the right choice for the situation.

At Krupa Downs Law, PLLC, we will work with you to determine the best path forward to protect your loved one and make sure they get the help that they need. Call us today to find out more about guardianship, supported decision-making and other options at 214-556-3862.


 [1]Texas is different this way, which isn’t represented in the links that were attached. Here’s a better source

 [2]https://www.cokerlegal.com/blog/2021/march/whats-the-difference-between-a-conservator-a-gua/