As our parents grow older, there may come a time when it is critical to discuss care options for them. An important part of estate planning in Texas, especially for the elderly, involves managing long-term care. If an elderly loved one develops a crippling condition or begins to experience mental deterioration, this can negatively influence their ability to take care of themselves, and it can also affect their judgement or memory.
The role of the guardian in a guardianship is the oversight and care of an incapacitated person’s health, living conditions and personal care. A guardianship is court-appointed, and it requires accountability for all decisions the chosen individual makes on behalf of their ward, including reports submitted each year that detail all activities.
What are the different kinds of guardianships?
A guardianship can be necessary for the care of adults as well as for children. When parents of minor children write a will, they usually name a guardian to oversee the needs of their child if the parents pass away. In Texas, adult guardianships fulfill the role of care for the needs not only of elderly wards but also adults with long-term disabilities, or those who have suffered a brain injury or other trauma.
The person for whom the guardianship is set up becomes a ward of the state, and it is the court that appoints the appropriate individual for this role, with a preference for a family member rather than a guardianship program. The court may disqualify an individual if they have a prior criminal conviction, owe money, or are otherwise indebted to the potential ward.
What are the roles and limits of a guardianship?
In Texas, a guardian has the responsibility to:
- Manage the ward’s estate and oversee its assets
- Pay the ward’s financial obligations
- Use the ward’s financial resources to care of their medical and living needs
- File annual reports with the court
- Get court approval for actions on behalf of the ward
The guardian is not responsible for unwise decisions that the ward makes of illegal acts in which they engage. The guardian cannot force their ward to take medications, nor are they responsible for their full-time care or for personally providing funding for their needs. A guardian also may not admit their ward to a mental health facility.