Guardianships: WHAT A GUARDIANSHIP ATTORNEY CAN AND CAN'T DO

A Guardianship Attorney protect the well-being of those who can't help themselves

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Family members, concerned individuals or the State may initiate the guardianship process. In all cases, the rights and needs of the claimed incapacitated person come first. If there are better alternatives to guardianship, the Court may deny the application.

When a family member or friend decides to initiate the process, an application is filed with the Court and the claimed incapacitated person is named as a'proposed ward'. This application is complex and best completed by an attorney. The Court then appoints an Attorney ad Litem and an investigator, and may even appoint a Guardian ad Litem, if necessary.

Guardians ad Litem protect the best interest of the proposed ward, and investigators collect the information necessary for the Court to determine whether a Guardianship is appropriate. If so, the proposed ward is assigned an Attorney at Litem. When the State initiates the process, an Attorney at Litem may represent the proposed ward from the beginning.

Texas prefers family to perform as guardians, especially in the case of minors, but non-relatives are sometimes considered. Disqualified people include, but aren't limited to, those who lack enough education or experience to perform as guardian, prior disqualification from a different guardianship appointment, non-residents and anyone whom the Court deems unfit.  Contact a guardianship attorney for more information.

The right guardianship placement preserves the dignity of the ward

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What Guardians Can and Can‘t Do

Since courts prefer to leave a person with his rights intact, specifics of authority may vary greatly based on the situation. However, there are general guidelines provided by the State of Texas.

A guardian of person must first post a bond with the Court ensuring the fulfillment of her duties. After appointment, she then has broad and sweeping authority over the ward, whether he is a minor or an adult.

With minors, the ward may live with the guardian. She must provide food, medication, shelter, clothing and medical care, although the power to institutionalize the ward is strictly limited and must be authorized by the Court. She must also ensure that the ward attends school.

A guardian of an adult is responsible for abiding by the court‘s determination of authority, according to the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services. Although she must provide for food, shelter, clothing and medication, the ward may live on his own and the guardian can choose where he lives, even if this means changing residences. She is not required to supervise the ward 24 hours per day. She cannot force the ward to take medication nor does she have the power to institutionalize, and she is not liable for any illegal acts made by the ward.

A guardian of an estate is different. She must post bond with the Court and send a notice to the creditors of the ward. Afterward, the guardian takes inventory of the ward's assets, pays his bills, keeps accurate records of bills and receipts, and makes accounts to the Court. When the ward is a minor, the guardian's duties might include protecting and managing money held in trust for the child, but there may be a different trustee over a trust.

Guardianship shouldn‘t be entered lightly, even when a person believes a child or incapacitated adult needs help. The Court ultimately decides what is required on a case-by-case basis, and the State of Texas upholds the well-being of the person in need above all others.  Contact a guardianship attorney for more information.

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