Sugar Land Guardianship Lawyer

Texas guardianship law is designed to ensure the well-being of someone who is unable to care for himself or manage his own financial affairs. As a trust and estates lawyers in Sugar Land can explain, this person might be a terminally ill elderly patient, someone with Alzheimer’s Disease, a minor, a mentally incapacitated adult, or anyone else who is not competent to manage their own affairs. The job of a guardian is to look after the affairs of this person.

Legal guardians are granted certain legal rights to act on behalf of the ward they are protecting. Depending on the type of guardianship and the rights granted by the court, a guardian may have the right to:

  • dispose of the assets of the ward,
  • make other critical financial decisions,
  • decide on which medical treatment to select from among several options, or
  • provide for the ward’s basic needs.

Obtaining Legal Guardianship

In Texas, a guardianship is established by the court, which also determines exactly which rights are held by the guardian. Not everyone is qualified to serve as a guardian, and even those who meet the formal legal requirements of guardianship sometimes find their guardianship applications contested by family members or other interested parties.

We Can Help

Guardianship is a daunting responsibility, and the prospect of undertaking it may cause you considerable stress. These difficulties can be rendered even more onerous if you try to handle the complexities and nuances of Texas guardianship law on your own. At Romano & Sumner, we have been guiding clients through the guardianship process for many years now, and we can do the same for you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which parties are involved in the guardianship process?

Four parties are required:

  • the proposed guardian,
  • the proposed ward (the person who will be looked after),
  • the attorney ad litem (responsible for representing the best interests of the proposed ward), and
  • the court.

What is the procedure for appointment as a guardian?

It generally works like this:

  • the proposed guardian submits an application to the Texas Probate Court,
  • the court appoints an attorney ad litem,
  • the proposed ward is notified of the guardianship application,
  • a hearing is held with the proposed guardian and the proposed ward’s attorney ad litem in attendance,
  • the guardian takes an oath and pays a bond.

What is an attorney ad litem?

An attorney ad litem is an attorney appointed by the court to represent the proposed ward. Since the proposed ward is either a minor or incapacitated, the attorney typically does not take directives from the proposed ward. He is nevertheless responsible for protecting the proposed ward’s interests.

Who is likely to be appointed guardian of a minor?

Under Texas law:

  • parents are granted first priority,
  • if neither parent has survived, then the person legally designated by the last surviving parent has second priority,
  • third priority goes to next of kin, and
  • unappointed non-relatives have fourth priority.

The court can ignore these priorities if a guardianship candidate is found to be unfit.

Who is likely to be appointed guardian of an incapacitated adult?

Under Texas law:

  • the proposed ward’s legal designation prior to becoming incapacitated takes first priority,
  • the proposed ward’s spouse usually takes second priority,
  • next of kin have third priority, and
  • unappointed non-relatives have fourth priority.

The court can ignore these priorities when appropriate.

What is the difference between a “guardian of the person” and a “guardian of the estate”?

A guardian of the person makes personal decisions for the ward (e.g., diet, medical care, living arrangements). Whereas, a guardian of the estate makes financial decisions. Courts scrutinize guardianship of the estate applications more closely than guardianship of the person applications.

What is the difference between a temporary guardian and a permanent guardian?

A temporary guardian is generally appointed for 60 days or less due to an emergency situation (a person becomes temporarily incapacitated due to an accident, for example). In a contested guardianship proceeding, a temporary guardian may be appointed until resolution of the contest. A permanent guardian is appointed on a long-term basis – until the ward’s incapacity ends, for example, or until the guardian is replaced by the court.

What is an “incapacitated” person under Texas law?

Under Texas law, an “incapacitated” person is an adult who suffers a physical or mental disability which renders the person unable to provide food, clothing, or shelter for themselves – or unable to manage their own health or finances.

Can I designate my own future guardian in case I ever need one?

Yes. You can appoint a guardian of the person or a guardian of the estate by completing a Designation of Guardian in Advance of Need form and signing it

Nevertheless, a judge can overrule your designation if she finds it inappropriate.

Are You Considering Applying For Guardianship? Let Our Compassionate Attorneys Assist You

At Romano & Sumner, you are not just a case number to us. We are small enough to offer personalized representation but large enough to possess the resources that sole practitioners lack. Both of our partners have been named Super Lawyers and have received ratings of “Excellent” and “Superb” from the Avvo lawyer rating service.

If you are considering applying for guardianship, or if you have legal concerns about someone else’s guardianship application, contact the Houston guardianship attorneys at Romano & Sumner as soon as possible. During our free initial consultation, we will listen carefully to what you have to say and help you understand your legal options. Contact us online or by calling to get the process started today.

The guardianship attorneys at Romano & Sumner cover all of the aspects in the guardianship process for you and your loved ones.

What does it mean to be “incapacitated”?

Texas Laws have strict guidelines that are followed in order to determine whether or not a person is “incapacitated”. Under Texas law, an adult is considered “incapacitated” if that person, due to a physical or a mental condition, is: (a) substantially unable to provide food, clothing, or shelter for himself or herself; (b) substantially unable to care for his or her own physical health; or (c) is substantially unable to manage his or her own financial matters. Wondering if your loved one would be deemed “incapacitated” by law? Contact the guardianship lawyers at Romano & Sumner for advice.

Incapacity of a minor

A “minor,” under Texas law, is defined as a person younger than 18 years old who has never been married. An exception may apply if the court “removed,” by judicial action, the status of that person as a minor. Technically, Texas law considers a minor to be “incapacitated,” absent any such exception. You should consult an experienced guardianship attorney experienced in Texas for further clarification on this complicated issue. Please reach out to Romano & Sumner as your guardianship lawyer in Sugar Land.

Types of Guardianships

There are two types of guardianship in Texas: (1) guardianship of the person and (2) guardianship of the estate. “Of the person” means taking care of the physical well-being of the ward. “Of the estate” means taking care of the ward’s property, assets, and business interests. One or both types of guardian may be appointed. If both are appointed, that person may be the same individual. Typically, this is the case. In other circumstances, there may be an individual person appointed for each type of guardianship. For more information on the type of case you are dealing with, contact our Sugar Land guardianship lawyers.

Evidence Required to Prove Incapacity

Incapacity, by definition of Texas law, must be proven. The legal standard is “clear and convincing evidence,” a very high standard to meet. If the ward is not a minor, a doctor must examine the proposed ward and file a certificate with the court based upon that examination. This must be done within very time specific guidelines. Should the court find it necessary to appoint a guardian, Texas law provides a priority list of who should be appointed based upon family relationships. If you need help determining if your loved one needs guardianship or if they show signs of incapacity, contact the guardianship attorneys at Romano & Sumner today for advice.

Contact our offices to discuss what type of guardianship you may be in need of and let us help you work through the legal process.

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Romano & Sumner – Sugar Land, TX Attorneys

Romano & Sumner – Sugar Land, TX Attorneys
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