It is common for people to need help managing their personal affairs, especially as they get older, or when they are experiencing cognitive impairment or suffering from a debilitating illness or disease. Examples include seniors with significant cognitive decline, older adults with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, individuals with serious mental illnesses, and people who suffer a traumatic brain injury from a devastating car accident.
Texas uses the legal terms “guardian” and “ward” to describe the relationship between an individual who protects (the guardian) another individual (the ward). If you’re considering becoming someone’s legal guardian because they are incapable of managing their personal affairs due to age, a disease, or injury, you will need to:
- Submit an application to the appropriate court;
- Attend a hearing before a judge; and
- Have the judge overseeing the case appoint you as the person’s guardian, if the judge agrees that he or she needs one.
Guardianship Is the Last Resort
Guardianship is not to be taken lightly. Since it takes away a person’s rights, it’s viewed as the best option only when there is no better, less restrictive solution to protect someone. If you are considering petitioning the court for guardianship, you’ll want to carefully weigh your other options first, such as:
- Can someone help the individual pay their bills?
- Can someone help them manage their finances?
- Is there anyone willing to help the individual make important decisions, such as those relating to their healthcare?
- Are there community services available that may delay guardianship proceedings, such as Medicaid programs?
- Are other, less restrictive legal remedies available outside a guardianship?
“Is guardianship temporary?” is a question that our clients ask us frequently. Generally, once a judge decides to appoint a legal guardian, it does become a permanent situation. However, that’s not absolute. If there is a significant change in the ward’s circumstances, for example, if someone who is in a coma from an accident wakes up, heals and recovers, the judge can decide that a guardian is no longer necessary.
To learn more about guardianship in Texas, contact Hunt Law Firm, PLLC.