Houston Guardianship Lawyer

In Houston, like elsewhere in the United States, the increase in life expectancy has resulted in a great number of elderly people. This state of affairs has created an explosive demand for guardianship arrangements over the last two decades or so. Some elderly people lack the capacity to make welfare or financial decisions of their own, and others, while retaining their mental faculties, simply cannot execute critical tasks themselves or cannot communicate their wishes to others.

While, in the past, relatives and friends would be informally assigned to care for the elderly, horrific reports of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation necessitated the formation of a legal guardianship system in Texas. The lawyers at Romano & Sumner have seen many such cases and help bring justice to family members.

As Houston guardianship lawyers, it is our mission to navigate the guardianship system on behalf of prospective guardians or their wards. We are intimately familiar with the Houston guardianship process, and we are firmly committed to securing the best possible outcome for our clients.

Our dedicated and skilled trust and estates attorneys will work with you to help you understand the rights and responsibilities of guardians. Whether you seek to be declared a guardian or you find yourself in the distressing position of needing to contest an existing guardianship arrangement, we stand ready to assist you with every weapon in our legal arsenal.

Background on Guardianships in Houston

Situated roughly between George Bush Intercontinental Airport in the north and the Port of Houston in the south, the Houston metro area impresses with its southern charm, bustling cityscape, and ethnic diversity. It is also fair to say that the city of Houston is the capital of America’s energy industry, as well as its space program.

With about two million people living inside city limits in Harris County and Fort Bend County, Houston’s municipal population alone exceeds the entire state population of neighboring New Mexico. Add in Woodlands, Sugar Land, and Houston’s various suburbs, and the size of the economy of a hypothetical Republic of Houston would exceed the size of the economies of all but 26 of the world’s nations.

Along with its massive size, however, comes both the benefits and the burdens of city life. Although Houston is a relatively young city with an average age in the early 30s, over 40,000 Houston households are made up of a single elderly person who is living alone, and many more households include an elderly person living with relatives or friends.

Guardianship Arrangements

Guardianship arrangements can be legally solemnized under Texas law through the Houston probate court system. The guardianship arrangement involves at least four actors:

  • A proposed ward (the person who will be looked after)
  • A proposed guardian
  • An attorney ad litem, who represents the interests of the proposed ward
  • A Houston probate court

In addition, the proposed guardian should also retain an experienced guardianship lawyer, although this is not a requirement.

A proposed ward might be:

  • An orphan
  • A minor with a significant property that needs to be managed on his/her behalf
  • An incapacitated elderly adult
  • A mentally handicapped adult
  • A physically handicapped adult who cannot meet his/her own needs and cannot communicate effectively with others

Applying for an Appointment as a Guardian

Texas guardianship law has established a formal procedure for appointing a guardian:

  • The proposed guardian submits a guardianship application to the appropriate Texas probate court, along with a letter from a doctor stating that the proposed ward is incapable of making his/her own decisions.
  • The probate court will appoint an attorney ad litem to represent the proposed ward. The attorney will visit the proposed ward.
  • A guardianship hearing will be held, to be attended by the proposed guardian and the attorney ad litem. The proposed ward is entitled to attend but is not required to. The court will set a bond.
  • The proposed guardian will take an oath swearing to fulfill his/her duties and post a bond. The bond for a “guardian of the person” (authorized to make personal decisions on behalf of the ward) is small; however, the bond for a “guardian of the estate” (authorized to make financial decisions on behalf of the ward) is often much larger.
  • A guardian of the estate (but not a guardian of the person) will be subject to certain post-hearing filing and publication requirements.

Contesting a Guardianship

A guardianship (or some aspect of it) can be contested either at the original hearing or at some other point. The ward’s attorney ad litem or some other interested party may initiate proceedings. A guardianship contest is a contested proceeding that requires significant legal expertise, so it is crucial to work with a nearby attorney to to ensure optimal results.

Let Us Assist You

If you need to set up a guardianship, contest an existing guardianship, or simply ask questions, reach out to the attorneys at Romano & Sumner at your first available opportunity.

We offer an initial consultation free of charge, during which you will have the opportunity to explain your concerns and ask questions. We will carefully listen to your concerns and help you explore your legal options. Please contact our Houston guardianship lawyers online or by calling to get the ball rolling today.

Get in Touch With Us to Learn More

Our initial consultation is free of charge, and it carries no obligation of any kind.

Get In Touch

    Romano & Sumner, PLLC

    Romano & Sumner, PLLC