There are few things in life as difficult as seeing a parent lose to ability to care for himself or herself. It is around the holidays that many Texas residents come to this realization after spending more time than usual with their loved ones.
Perhaps they notice that mom or dad is forgetful, confused or malnourished. Maybe they visit the loved one's home and are shocked to find things in disarray. Or, maybe a sibling discovers that bills are not being paid or doctor's appointments are being missed.
These are all red flags that the elderly loved one needs help. If the situation is serious enough, the family may want to consider legal guardianship.
What is guardianship?
Under Texas law, guardianship can be appointed by the court for a minor or for an incapacitated person. The guardian becomes legally responsible for the person and his or her property, similar to a power of attorney.
When is guardianship necessary?
Guardianship is necessary when an older adult can no longer care for him or herself because of a physical or mental condition. This means the person is generally unable to provide food, clothing or shelter for himself or herself or care for his or her own physical wellbeing. The person can no longer manage his or her own financial affairs.
What are the benefits of guardianship?
In addition to the obvious benefit of making sure that the elderly loved one is being taken care of, guardianship also gives family members access to medical providers and financial accounts so that proper decisions can be made.
What is the process for getting guardianship appointed?
There is a very specific court procedure that must take place in order for guardianship to be appointed. The process should be handled by a lawyer, and most courts will not accept guardianship applications that are filed by non-lawyers.
There must be clear and convincing evidence that a guardian is needed or it will not be appointed. This is because the process takes away some of the incompetent person's civil rights.
Do guardians have unlimited control?
The court supervises the guardianship. Each year, the guardian must file an annual account, which details the money that was taken in and paid out of the estate throughout the year. Many guardians need help from an attorney with this detailed accounting and the other requirements under the law.