As people age, they sometimes become unable to take care of themselves, whether through physical limitations, cognitive decline, or both. When this happens, loved ones may need to step in to help their elderly family member and protect them. This may require filing for emergency guardianship.
What is an Emergency Guardianship?
Texas guardianships legally designates one individual to make financial, personal, and health care decisions on behalf of another. Usually, this occurs when an adult is considered incapacitated or impaired because of physical illness, disability or a deficiency.
The traditional guardianship process in Texas can take several months and involves a professional exam of the potential ward to determine their capabilities. Then, the guardian and the ward attend a court hearing and present their respective cases. A judge evaluates whether guardianship is required for the ward and then awards it.
Sometimes, though, families are thrust into a position where they cannot wait for the lengthy court process – their loved one may be making reckless financial decisions or is suddenly incapacitated, and decisions must be made regarding their health care or supervision of minor children.
Getting an Emergency Adult Guardianship in Texas
To begin the process, the proposed guardian must complete the Application of Temporary Guardian form and file it with the court. A Texas guardianship attorney can help in these situations, making sure that the form is correct and complete, along with suggestions for supporting documentation, so there are no delays in having a hearing before the judge.
Once the petition is filed, the proposed guardian attends a hearing, and a judge will determine if guardianship is necessary. The ruling for emergency guardianship may be swift, but families should note that emergency guardianships in Texas are temporary – only 60 days. If you foresee your loved one needing permanent guardianship, you and your Dallas guardianship attorney must work quickly to file the appropriate paperwork and schedule the court hearing.
Why Choose an Emergency Guardianship in Texas?
A Texas guardianship significantly limits the ward’s agency and rights, and therefore the evaluation process is stringent. Often, families are advised to seek other, less restrictive options first and only apply for guardianship if less-restrictive options fail to protect the ward. For example, hiring outside help to assist the ward with personal care and help with activities of daily living or an in-home health aide may be an option.
One example of when emergency guardianship may be necessary would be in a case of an elderly adult with dementia developing an aggressive form of cancer. They may lack the full capacity to make medical treatment decisions, or, because of their memory impairments, their choices may change radically from one day to the next, depending on how much awareness they have of their situation. The person’s adult children may seek an emergency guardianship to make medical decisions on behalf of their parent, following wishes they expressed while they were in a better frame of mind or following the directives of the parent’s living will.
Although many Texas families seek emergency guardianship due to medical reasons, this isn’t the only situation in which this legal designation may be necessary. Seniors in an abusive situation or at risk for neglect or abuse may need emergency guardianship to remove them from their situation. For example, an elderly person with diminished capacity may not know how to ask for help or realize the extent of their physical, emotional, or financial abuse. Emergency guardianship can help the senior’s family remove them from, say, a predatory nursing home or out from under the supervision of someone who does not have the senior’s best interests at heart.
Obtaining a Guardianship in Texas: When Is Getting an Emergency Guardianship Appropriate?
The guardianship process in Texas can be complicated for families to navigate alone. Contact an experienced guardianship and elder law attorney today to help you through this difficult process.