Understanding Guardianship

Dallas Guardianship Attorneys

What is Guardianship?

A guardianship is a relationship created and monitored by a court that takes away legal rights from a person (the ward) and gives those rights to another person (the guardian) to use for the benefit of the ward. In Texas, most guardianship cases are for incapacitated adults. Legal incapacity can be established based on physical or mental conditions. An individual may be determined to be incapacitated if they are unable to provide their own food, clothing, or shelter, and/or unable to take care of their own physical health, or manage personal financial affairs.

Types of Guardianship  

There are many variations of guardianships, some are short term, and others are full-term. The two most common types of full-term guardianships that we help with are guardianship of a person and/or and estate.  

  • Guardian of the Person – The guardian, has control over the ward’s personal matters, including medical, housing, and educational decisions. 
  • Guardian of the Estate – The guardian has control over the ward’s property and finances. A guardian can serve as both guardian of the person and estate. 

The Guardianship Process 

The first step to becoming a guardian is having an attorney file an application with the court. A doctor will then evaluate the proposed ward and certify that he or she is incapacitated. The ward must be personally served with the application. Certain relatives to the ward must also be served or notified. The proposed ward will be appointed an independent attorney (attorney ad litem) to represent their interests. The applicant, the proposed ward (unless unable to attend), and the attorneys will appear in court for a hearing. At the hearing, the applicant will testify why a guardianship is necessary. 

Guardianship for a Minor 

The guardianship of a minor remains under court supervision until the child reaches age 18.  You may become the guardian of a child if they are left something in a will such as a large inheritance. Courts can be reluctant to hand over financial assets intended for a child to the child’s parents.  If you’re living with a child who is not your biological child, you should consider becoming a guardian. Without guardianship, you may have difficulty getting medical care, enrolling the child in school, and a host of other obstacles. 

Special Needs Guardianship

If you have a child with special needs, you will need to obtain guardianship once they legally become an adult (18 years old). Although this is not a contentious guardianship process in most cases, it still requires filing the appropriate documentation and a court hearing. A skilled guardianship attorney can expedite this process and save you time and money so you can focus on taking care of your child and getting on with life.

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The process of becoming a legal guardian for a loved one is often filled with giant legal and emotional hurdles. It’s one of the most compassionate and selfless responsibilities you can take on, but the legal process doesn’t always make it as easy you’d like. Courts do not easily take away the legal agency of adults, even when they’re in dire need of help. You need a skilled guardianship attorney to guide you through the guardianship process to ensure the quickest and the best outcome for everyone involved in the process.