If you care for a loved one as a guardian, questions about the relationship between a guardian and their ward or estate are likely at the forefront of your mind. Texas expects a lot from guardians, and a guardian has legal obligations to protect the interests of their ward or estate. We hope to answer many of those questions for those navigating the often tricky guardianship process.
Understanding the guardian’s obligations starts with establishing the type of relationship the guardian will have. Texas has several levels of guardianships, each of which has quite different legal requirements. Krupa Downs Law can help you understand the details of each type of guardianship so you can make the correct decision for a loved one or their estate.
Permanent Guardianship of an Adult Person or Estate
Texas courts typically establish a guardianship because an adult needs help to manage their financial or personal affairs. In general, a court-appointed guardianship of an adult ward happens because the individual cannot communicate or may be mentally incapable of managing their financial or personal affairs without oversight or assistance. Guardianships for an adult are typically permanent.
The court determines if the legal incapacity involves the person or if it also involves their estate, then it appoints the appropriate form of guardian. A Guardian of the Person is responsible for the incapacitated person’s maintenance, care, and personal needs. A Guardian of the Estate has the duty to preserve, protect, and maintain the assets of the ward’s estate and manage all financial matters for the incapacitated person’s estate.
Usually, a guardian is appointed to both the person and their estate, although this isn’t always the case.
Temporary Guardianship in Texas
Temporary guardianships are appointed in an as-needed situation, usually immediately, to protect the ward. If there is no immediate need for a guardian, then an application for permanent guardianship will be initiated in the Texas courts. Temporary guardianships last 60 days, but the guardian may petition the courts for permanent guardianship during this time. Many times, temporary guardianships are used for the immediate care of a minor child and may become permanent.
Guardianship of a Minor Child
Guardianship of a minor child is required when the child’s parents are either deceased or otherwise unable to care for the minor child. Most parents establish a Declaration of Guardian in their will or estate plan, which names the guardian or guardians who will care for the child after they pass.
A guardianship of a minor child may also be required if the minor is entitled to benefits or assets from a Trust or Will or if the minor was designated as the beneficiary of retirement benefits, life insurance, or other financial benefits. This is because a minor child may not legally receive these assets or own property in Texas.
What are Legal Alternatives to Guardianships in Texas?
If you don’t feel that guardianship is the right choice for the care of your loved one or their needs, other options are less restrictive to the ward or those that require less obligation on the part of the guardian.
Some alternatives to a guardianship include:
- A joint bank account with co-signatures is necessary
- A Special Needs Trust
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Medical Power of attorney, to make health care decisions
- Living Will or Advance Directive
Keeping the interests of your loved one in mind can help determine who will take care of the minor, incapacitated person, or elderly family member.
Do You Need a Guardianship Attorney in Texas?
If you need assistance establishing a guardianship in Texas, contact Krupa Downs Law, a local North Texas legal firm with experience in Texas guardianship cases. We have the necessary expertise in establishing guardianships, estate planning, powers of attorney, and other protections for an incapacitated loved one. Contact us today to set up a consultation and explore your options.