A guardian protects and provides for another person and is often given legal responsibilities to perform certain tasks. In Texas, you cannot become a legal guardian until a hearing is held and the judge goes through the process of appointing one. Preference is typically given to an appointing family member; however, there is the possibility that the court could disqualify someone from becoming a guardian due to certain criminal convictions. Today, we go over what you need to know about guardianships in the state of Texas.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Guardian?

Court appointed guardians are held to the standard of “what an ordinary person would do relative to their own care”. A guardian must meet the legal responsibilities dictated by the court, which might include the following:

  • Pay bills
  • Ensure medical and living needs are met
  • Advocate for the ward’s best interests
  • Establish living arrangements (unless the court rules otherwise)
  • Consult with healthcare practitioners and social services (if applicable)
  • Make an annual report to the court or county Adult Protective Services Office

Guardianship Limitations

A guardian is not responsible for the following:

  • Decisions and choices the ward would like to make (even if these are illegal)
  • Ability to place the ward in a mental health facility
  • 24/7 supervision of the ward
  • Financial support

An incapacitated ward has the right to refuse medical treatment for mental illness, a developmental disability, or substance abuse if a discussion was held about this matter through the court system.

When it comes to decisions regarding life sustaining/ending therapies, the power to act can be instituted by the guardian only if the ward provided no clear direction regarding such treatment. The guardian has the authority to refuse nutrition and hydration for the ward, if the individual’s doctor and two other physicians determine within reasonable medical certainty that he/she is in a chronic vegetative state and the guardian deems this to be in the person’s best interest.

How Do You Modify a Guardianship?

You can request to modify a guardianship in the event the ward’s condition improves or worsens. You will need to ask the court to modify this existing order. The ward also has the option to send an informal letter to the court instead of completing an application to fulfill this request.

How Can You Terminate a Guardianship?

A guardianship can be terminated if circumstances change or the ward dies. The ward’s rights can also be restored if he/she is able to function without the assistance of their guardian. Anytime a ward’s rights are restored or the ward dies, the guardian will no longer need to be held responsible for the ward’s affairs. There is also the potential for a guardian’s role to end if a successor guardian is appointed.

If you need assistance establishing a guardianship, contact us online or by calling The Law Office of Derek S. Ritchie  at (210) 775-2000.