What is Guardianship?

Guardianship is a legally recognized relationship in which the court appoints an individual (guardian) to handle the affairs of an incapacitated person (ward). The guardian’s role is to ensure the well-being and best interests of the incapacitated person. A guardianship cannot be established without a recent doctor’s evaluation and a court order. Once appointed, a guardian must pay for a bond and renew it annually. Without this process, there is no guardianship in Texas.

Appointing a guardian for seniors in Texas can be complex, often requiring the input of skilled legal professionals from a family law firm in San Antonio. The lawyers can help you file an application in court and represent you during the hearing as the judge decides if guardianship is necessary. Like any lawsuit, the proposed ward must be served with papers, have appointed an attorney of their own, and then evidence must be formally presented in a court hearing.

Factors to Consider Before Establishing Guardianship

Before establishing guardianship for your senior loved one in San Antonio, it’s crucial to note that the legal relationship takes away the senior’s rights, apart from their voting rights. There are often other, less expensive and less difficult ways to accomplish the same goals of caring for the senior. Before settling for a guardianship, consider exploring other options first, such as:

  • Creating a supported decision-making agreement
  • Securing money management services or similar services to manage the senior’s money
  • Setting up a managed trust with a responsible trustee
  • A power or powers of attorney to assist the individual in making decisions, including health care decisions and managing finances
  • Enrolling them in available community services, such as Medicaid programs

Once the court has appointed a guardian, the relationship can only be revoked through court action. So, consult extensively with estate planning lawyers in San Antonio to determine if this is the most suitable option for your senior based on your case specifics.

Legal Rights and Individual Autonomy

One of the central concepts of guardianship is the preservation of the ward’s legal rights to the greatest extent possible under the circumstances, and respecting their right to make the decisions they are capable of making. The legal system ensures the individual’s voice is heard and their preferences are protected. The ward’s individuality should also be acknowledged and not suppressed. The order should be tailored to the least restrictive alternatives.

Healthcare Decisions

Healthcare considerations, from routine medical care to life-altering surgeries, are at the heart of guardianship decisions. As a guardian, it’s your role to make decisions that profoundly affect the senior’s well-being. Don’t make the decisions in isolation; involve the expertise of healthcare professionals, the senior’s needs and desires, and carefully evaluate treatment options. The guardian is legally responsible to look out for the best interests of the ward, and to report to the court on the ward’s well-being.

Compassion is crucial in guardianship roles, ensuring that every medical decision is clinically sound and emotionally supportive to the individual under guardianship. It’s even more vital that you embrace the spirit of advocacy if the ward has disabilities. Be prepared to fight for equal opportunities and holistic care to protect them against discrimination.

Cultural Sensitivity and Ethical Considerations

Guardianship in Texas is embodied in cultural threads, and sensitivity toward culture is a virtue. The legal system acknowledges and respects an individual’s traditions, culture, beliefs, and customs that shape them into what they are. Ensure you make critical ethical considerations when making decisions concerning the ward.

What Are the Types of Guardianship in Texas?

When applying to be appointed as a guardian, you can choose from the following types:

  • A guardian of the person responsible for making decisions regarding the life and person of the ward
  • Partial guardianship in which the ward retains some rights, such as their right to vote
  • Plenary guardianship of the person in which the ward retains no rights at all
  • A guardian of the ward’s estate
  • A guardian of the person and estate

Keep in mind that not everyone is legally qualified to be a guardian in Texas. For example, a person who has been convicted of a felony or has declared bankruptcy cannot be appointed guardian. Experienced estate planning attorneys in San Antonio can evaluate your case, help you choose the most applicable type of guardianship or better options, guide you in establishing it, and help you navigate the legal responsibilities after you are appointed.

What is the Process of Establishing a Guardianship in Texas?

If you have a senior who may need guardianship but is not willing to agree to one, you can consult experienced estate planning lawyers in San Antonio on how to initiate a guardianship investigation. The provisions of this provision are in Section 1102 of the Texas Estates Code, stipulating how to write an Information Letter to the court.

The letter serves as the basis for initiating procedures to Establish guardianship. It must have the following details:

  • The proposed ward’s name, phone, address, date of birth, and county of residence
  • The type of residence for the ward, whether private, group home, or nursing facility
  • Your relationship with the proposed ward
  • Whether you have been appointed the senior’s guardian of the person or estate
  • Whether the ward has executed a power of attorney
  • A description of the ward’s estate and its estimated value
  • The nature and extent of the ward’s alleged incapacity, including any special needs
  • Whether there is a real threat of severe impairment to the physical health, estate, or safety of the person

What is the Role of a Guardian?

Guardians play several crucial and specific roles, which they fulfill on behalf of the ward. You may need to consult San Antonio estate planning lawyers about the roles to weigh your options before filing a petition:

  • Financial management: If appointed guardian of the ward’s estate, you’ll manage their financial resources, including investments and bills. You will be audited annually and it is critical that you treat the ward’s money with utmost care and accountability.
  • Decision-making: You’ll be entrusted with making decisions on behalf of the ward, including their residence, personal care, and medical treatment.
  • Duty of care: You have a legal duty to exercise reasonable care and due diligence when deciding on behalf of the ward.
  • Compliance with court orders: You must comply with all court orders in relation to the guardianship, including limitations and instructions the court imposes.

The responsibilities of a guardian are significant, and you should take them seriously. Ensure you always act in the ward’s best interests, respecting their rights and dignity.

A Skilled Estate Planning Attorney Helping You Navigate Guardianship for Seniors in San Antonio

If you have a senior who needs guardianship because they cannot care for themselves or manage their own personal affairs, you could petition the court to initiate the process. Consult family law attorneys in San Antonio to carefully evaluate the option and determine if it’s viable depending on the case specifics.

Laura D. Heard is a family law firm in San Antonio with passionate estate planning lawyers. We provide personalized and dedicated services to clients looking to make the proper estate planning decisions. We can help with your guardianship case to ensure the most favorable outcome. Call us at 210-775-0353 to schedule a consultation.