| Read Time: 3 minutes | Guardianship

Have you ever considered guardianship for a loved one in Texas? Perhaps an aging parent can no longer manage their finances, or a sudden illness has left someone unable to make crucial medical decisions. In these situations, guardianship can be a vital legal tool to ensure their well-being.

However, there are two main types of guardianship: guardianship of the estate and guardianship of the person. Understanding the difference between them is crucial before pursuing either option.

Understanding Texas Guardianship Laws

Texas guardianship laws protect individuals deemed incapacitated – meaning they lack the ability to make informed decisions for themselves. An incapacitated individual is known as the ward.  A court appoints a guardian to act on the ward’s behalf, ensuring their well-being and safeguarding their assets.

The two main types of guardianship in Texas are:

  • Guardianship of the estate—focuses on managing the ward’s financial affairs, including paying bills, investing assets, collecting income, and making decisions about property; and
  • Guardianship of the person—focuses on the ward’s personal well-being and managing decisions about the ward’s living situation, medical care, and overall daily needs.

Texas also allows for combined guardianship, where one person acts as a guardian for both the estate and the person. In addition, Texas offers limited guardianship options where the ward retains some decision-making authority while sharing that responsibility with the guardian.

Establishing guardianship involves a complex court process that necessitates proof of the ward’s incapacity and the need for guardianship. It’s crucial to consult with an experienced Texas estate planning attorney to navigate the legal intricacies of this process.

Guardianship of the Estate in Texas

A guardian of the estate assumes a significant financial responsibility. Their duties include:

  • Inventorying the ward’s assets—this involves creating a detailed list of all property and financial holdings;
  • Managing income and expenses—paying bills, collecting benefits, and ensuring the ward’s financial well-being;
  • Investing assets—making sound investment decisions to grow the ward’s financial resources;
  • Filing tax returns—ensuring all tax obligations are met on time and accurately; and
  • Reporting to the court—regularly submitting financial reports to the court detailing the use of the ward’s assets.

Guardians of the estate must adhere to a strict fiduciary duty, meaning they must act in the ward’s best interests, prioritize their financial well-being, and avoid any conflicts of interest.

Guardianship of the Person in Texas

A guardian of the person must make crucial decisions for the ward regarding their daily life. These decisions may include:

  • Residence—choosing where the ward will live, whether their own home, an assisted living facility, or a nursing home;
  • Medical care—consenting to medical treatment, such as surgery or medication, after consulting with medical professionals and considering the ward’s wishes;
  • Personal care—ensuring the ward’s basic needs, including hygiene, meals, and clothing, are met; and
  • Social interaction—facilitating social engagement and activities that promote the ward’s well-being.

The guardian must prioritize the ward’s autonomy and respect their wishes, especially when the ward can make informed decisions. However, when the ward cannot make informed decisions, the guardian intervenes to act in their best interest.

Guardianship of the Estate vs. Guardianship of the Person: Key Differences

The table below offers a quick comparison of the key distinctions between the two guardianship types.

FeatureGuardianship of the EstateGuardianship of the Person
FocusFinancial affairs and propertyHealth, safety, and daily living
ResponsibilitiesManage finances, make financial decisionsMake personal decisions, ensure well-being
Examples of DecisionsPaying bills, investing assets, buying or selling propertyChoosing medical treatment, selecting housing, arranging daily care
Required ReportingAnnual reports to the court detailing financial activitiesSome counties, like Travis County, require annual reports of the ward’s condition.

When Guardianship May Be Necessary in Texas

There are various situations where guardianship might become necessary.

  • Adults with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease—as the disease progresses, the individual may require assistance managing finances and making daily decisions;
  • Adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities—some individuals may require lifelong support with daily living tasks or financial management; and
  • Adults who have suffered a severe injury or illness—temporary or limited guardianship may be necessary while the individual recovers.

Understanding your loved one’s needs will help you determine which type of guardianship is the most appropriate.

Dedicated Guardianship Planning with Robbins Estate Law 

The legal process for establishing guardianship in Texas can be intricate. Understanding the differences between guardianship of the estate and guardianship of the person is just the first step. Guardianship has significant responsibilities, and navigating the court system requires experienced legal guidance.

At Robbins Estate Law, we have extensive experience handling guardianship cases throughout Texas. Our team of dedicated estate attorneys understands the complexities of guardianship law and is committed to achieving the best outcome for your loved one. We will guide you through every step of the process, ensuring a smooth and successful journey.

Contact us today for a free consultation, and let us help you ensure the well-being and protection of your loved one through expert guardianship planning. 

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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