| Read Time: 3 minutes | Guardianship

Life can sometimes throw us unexpected curveballs. Sometimes, loved ones—due to age, illness, or disability—may struggle to manage their daily affairs or make sound decisions. In these cases, Texas guardianship for adults is an essential legal tool to safeguard their well-being and rights. Below, we explain adult guardianship in Texas, the rights of those under guardianship, and the responsibilities of guardians.

Understanding Guardianship in Texas for Adults

Guardianship for adults involves a court-ordered arrangement where a capable individual, or the guardian, is selected to make decisions on behalf of an incapacitated adult, known as the ward, who is unable to manage their personal or financial affairs. 

Incapacity refers to an inability to manage personal needs or financial matters due to a physical or mental impairment. Incapacity could be caused by dementia, intellectual disability, severe mental illness, or a traumatic brain injury.

The Adult Guardianship Process

The Texas Estates Code outlines the process and requirements for establishing guardianship in Texas for adults. Here’s a simplified breakdown:

  • Initiating the process. A petition for guardianship is filed with the probate court in the ward’s county of residence. 
  • Capacity evaluation. The court typically orders a comprehensive medical and psychological evaluation to determine the extent of the ward’s incapacity and their specific needs for guardianship.
  • Hearing and appointment. The court holds a hearing to determine incapacity and consider the proposed guardianship plan. If approved, the judge will appoint a guardian with specific powers and limitations outlined in the court order.

The guardian must provide the court with annual reports detailing the ward’s physical and financial condition, ensuring transparency and accountability. The court also has the authority to review and modify the guardianship arrangement when necessary.

Who Can File for Guardianship in Texas?

A petition for guardianship can be filed by: 

  • A spouse, 
  • Adult child, 
  • Parent, 
  • Sibling,  
  • A close friend, 
  • A concerned neighbor, or 
  • A professional caregiver.

The petitioner needs to be intimately familiar with the ward’s situation.

Guardianship Rights for Adults in Texas

The primary goal of adult guardianship is to offer essential care and protection to vulnerable individuals while safeguarding their rights and autonomy to the fullest extent possible. The focus is on providing assistance to uphold their safety and well-being while compromising their independence as little as possible.

While a guardian is empowered to make decisions for the ward, Texas law prioritizes the least restrictive alternative. This means the guardianship should be tailored to the ward’s specific needs while granting them the maximum amount of autonomy.

Even under guardianship, adult wards retain certain rights in Texas. These include:

  • The right to participate in their care whenever possible;
  • The right to respectful communication and treatment throughout the guardianship process;
  • The right to be treated with dignity and respect includes honoring the ward’s preferences, feelings, and individuality in all decisions and interactions;
  • The right to have their wishes considered when making decisions;
  • The right to legal representation during the guardianship proceedings; and
  • Guardianship should not limit the ward’s preferred living arrangements.

The court periodically examines guardianship arrangements to ensure they align with the ward’s current status and best interests. Guardians must understand and uphold these rights while fulfilling their responsibilities.

Ethical Considerations and Best Practices for Adult Guardianship in Texas

Before seeking guardianship, carefully considering your loved one’s wishes is important. Here are some ethical considerations and best practices to keep in mind:

  • Explore alternatives. Guardianship should be considered a last resort. First, explore options such as supported decision-making, durable power of attorney, or living trusts, which may offer less restrictive ways to help your loved one.
  • Keep open communication. Maintain open and honest communication with your loved one throughout the process, involving them in discussions whenever possible.
  • Respecting the ward’s choices. Always prioritize your loved one’s expressed wishes and preferences when making decisions, unless those decisions directly conflict with their safety or well-being.

It is essential to respect the ward and honor their dignity by involving them in decision-making whenever possible. Additionally, seeking input from professionals, such as social workers or medical professionals, can provide valuable guidance in managing complex guardianship situations. 

Consider consulting with an experienced attorney specializing in Texas estate planning to ensure the process is carried out smoothly and ethically.

Considering Guardianship? We Can Help.

The legal process can be complicated, and deciding whether to seek guardianship can be difficult. At Robbins Estate Law, we recognize the emotional significance and complexities of guardianship issues. 

Whether you are considering guardianship for an elderly parent or a disabled child, we are here to provide compassionate and knowledgeable legal representation every step of the way. Our experienced Texas estate planning attorneys can guide and support your family in making informed decisions that meet your loved one’s needs.

If you have questions about Texas adult guardianship, contact us today for a free consultation. We offer predictable, flat fees on an upfront and clear schedule so you can focus on your loved one’s care.

Author Photo

Kyle Robbins

Kyle Robbins is the founder and sole owner of The Law
Offices of Kyle Robbins. He received his J.D. with honors from the University of Texas School of Law and his B.S. in Food Chemistry and Microbiology from Oklahoma State University.

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