The Guardianship Process in Texas
Guardianship is a complicated process with many steps. An experienced guardianship attorney will help guide you through the steps.
The guardianship process begins with filing an application in the probate court of the county in which the proposed ward lives. Notice of the application must be provided to the proposed ward, the proposed ward's parents, the proposed guardian, and, if applicable, the proposed ward's spouse and any person actually caring for or having control of the proposed ward. If the proposed ward is under the age of eighteen, you cannot file an application more than 180 days before the proposed ward's eighteenth birthday. If the hearing is before the proposed ward turns 18, the guardianship does not take effect until the ward is 18 years old.
The Role of Attorneys in Guardianship
Because a guardianship case is filed on behalf of another person, and because non-lawyers cannot represent other people in court, you will need an attorney to file the application for guardianship and to represent you as a proposed guardian. The proposed ward will have representation, too. The court will appoint an attorney to represent the proposed ward's wishes and may appoint a guardian ad litem, to advocate for what he or she believes is in the proposed ward's best interests, even if that conflicts with what the proposed ward wants.
Proving the Need for a Guardianship
A guardianship is a serious matter, as it deprives a ward of certain essential rights. As such, evidence must be presented to demonstrate incapacity, including a medical evidence letter signed by a medical doctor and dated within 120 days before the application was filed. This letter must be based on an examination by that doctor within 120 days before the medical evidence letter was signed. The evidence of incapacity must be based on recent recurring acts or events, not merely isolated instances of bad judgment. Before appointing a guardian, the court must find by clear and convincing evidence that:
- the proposed ward is an incapacitated person;
- it is in the best interest of the proposed ward to appoint a guardian; and
- the appointment of a guardian will serve to protect the rights of the ward or the ward's property.
The guardianship process is designed to protect the ward without unnecessarily depriving him or her of rights. Therefore, the process is painstaking and deliberate and can be costly. It makes sense to consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can advise you, based on your specific situation, if pursuing a guardianship is the best option.
For Experienced, Compassionate Guardianship Help Call Us
Attorney Stephen Turkett has years of experience with guardianship and can represent you in seeking guardianship over a loved one who cannot care for themselves. To discuss the process, please contact our law office today online or by telephone at 817-769-2750.