The need to establish guardianship rarely emanates from a joyous occasion. Traditionally, a guardian for an adult is needed in cases of incapacity or diminishing capacity resulting from a disabling condition.
There are two primary ways to obtain guardianship for an adult:
- Reactively file an Application for Appointment of Permanent Guardian with the court
- Proactively complete guardianship planning documents
Reactive Guardianship Application
Upon discovery that an individual (potential ward) can no longer care for themselves, loved ones (applicant guardians) often find it necessary to become primary decision makers as it relates to health and financial matters. If a proactive guardianship plan is not in place, the concerned party must apply for guardianship in the county in which the potential ward resides. As you can imagine, the court takes requests for guardianship very seriously, and sets forth a detailed process that must be completed before the applicant guardian can begin acting on behalf of the ward.
The non-profit organization Texas Guardianship Association outlines the reactive guardianship process on its website. Here are a few highlights of this process:
- Demographic information for self and potential ward, including social security numbers
- The “nature and degree” of suspected incapacity supported by medical testimony
- The type of guardianship sought
- The value of the proposed ward’s estate – including housing, revenue, benefits, insurances, etc.
- And much…much more
- The court may request that an investigation be performed by a court appointed investigator to determine validity of the application. The investigator will talk with the potential ward, doctors, psychologists, family members, social workers and others to determine if the application for guardianship is necessary.
Appointment of attorney and guardian ad litem:
- If the investigation supports the need for an appointment of a guardian, the court will appoint an attorney and guardian ad litem to advocate for the best interests of the ward.
- Court hearing to determine (among other topics):
- If the potential ward can adequately care for his or her physical and financial needs
- What is in the best interest of the potential ward
- Is guardian applicating qualified to care for the potential ward
Disposition of case including, but not limited to:
- Defining parameters of guardianship
- Bonding the appointed guardian
- Issuing letters of guardianship
This lengthy process is designed to fully protect the individual who may be experiencing a disabling condition. However, there is a way to be proactively in control of who becomes your guardian should you or a family member become incapacitated.
Proactive Guardianship Planning Documents
Working with a qualified attorney to craft guardianship documents allows you to proactively determine who will act as your guardian and in what capacity. For example, a specific family member may be a wonderful medical provider, but a horrible money manager. Defining roles and responsibilities before a time of crisis allows you and your guardians to clearly communicate and make plans to carry out your wishes in the event of incapacitation. Avoiding the arduous, yet necessary, process of applying for guardianship post-incapacity by settling the matter via working with an expert attorney to put a plan in place gives peace of mind for all involved.
Our firm skillfully navigates both reactive and proactive guardianship arrangements. Should you find yourself in need of crafting guardian planning documents or applying for guardianship, we are here to serve you. Schedule a free consultation with our attorneys to discuss your guardianship needs.