There are unfortunately some situations in which a person is simply incapable of making decisions in their own best interests. Whether the cause is advanced age, neurological degeneration, or an intellectual disability, a court can allow an appointed individual to make important personal and financial choices on behalf of another. This legal arrangement is known as a guardianship.
However, guardianship permanently deprives a ward of several fundamental rights and is usually only sought as a last resort. Those considering this arrangement should speak with a seasoned trusts & estates attorney to discuss all available options. If it is the correct course of action, a Richmond guardianship lawyer can help ensure the process goes smoothly and productively.
Guardianship can only be sought if the prospective ward is “legally incapacitated.” It is important to note that this term is not synonymous with “disabled.” In order to be considered incapacitated, an adult must be physically or mentally limited to the degree that they cannot provide for their own basic needs, physical health, or financial affairs.
There are two types of guardianship. A guardian of the person can make decisions regarding their ward’s housing, medical care, and other personal matters, while a guardian of the estate handles financial and property-related decisions. It is common for a single guardian to fill both roles, but it is also possible for different people to serve the different guardian responsibilities. For instance, this might make sense if an elderly individual has two children.
Importantly, the rights of either type of guardian could be limited if their ward is only partially incapacitated. A Richmond guardianship attorney can help clarify what guardianship rights and responsibilities might be called for in a specific situation.
Anyone who decides to pursue a guardianship in Texas is required to retain legal counsel first. Only a qualified attorney is allowed in court to represent somebody other than themselves—in this case, the prospective ward. Once a doctor has certified a person’s incapacitation, a guardianship lawyer in Richmond would file with the Fort Bend County Court to ensure that the proposed ward, their relatives, and any other interested parties are directly served by the application as well.
The court may accept the guardianship application based on submitted information and testimony from the prospective guardian at a court hearing. If accepted, the guardian would have 20 days to swear their intention to serve as guardian in good faith and post an associated bond. Once this is done, the court would give the guardian “Letters of Guardianship” affirming their role. This document is valid for 16 months, after which they would need to be renewed by filing an annual report and posting a new bond.
Guardianship is a serious responsibility and must be undertaken carefully and deliberately. State law requires legal counsel in pursuing this kind of procedure, so it is necessary to seek advice from a legal professional with an extensive background in these types of cases.
The legal team at Romano & Sumner is well-equipped to discuss all available options with families and help determine the best solution for their circumstances. Call one of our dedicated Richmond guardianship attorneys to set up a meeting today.
Romano & Sumner, PLLC