Decatur Family Law and Probate Attorney

Differences between guardianships for minors vs. adults

On Behalf of | May 1, 2024 | guardianships

In Texas, the legal framework for guardianship varies significantly between minors and adults, reflecting the unique needs and circumstances of these two groups.

Understanding these differences is important for anyone looking at the guardianship process or considering the role of a guardian.

Guardianship for Minors

When it comes to minors, guardianship typically becomes necessary when parents are no longer able to care for their child due to reasons such as death, incapacity or significant life circumstances. In such cases, a guardian, called a conservator, assumes the role of a surrogate parent, making decisions that affect the personal well-being and financial interests of the minor. Texas law prioritizes the welfare of the child and ensures that the guardian appointed meets the best interests of the minor.

Guardianship for Adults

For adults, guardianship is generally required when individuals are deemed incapacitated due to mental or physical disabilities and are unable to manage their own care or financial affairs. The legal threshold for declaring an adult incapacitated is quite high, requiring thorough medical testimony and often a court hearing. Unlike with minors, guardianship for adults focuses on protecting the individual from abuse, neglect or exploitation.

Legal Process and Responsibilities

In Texas, the process of appointing a guardian involves filing an application with the court, followed by an investigation and a hearing. A conservator for a minor oversees the child’s education, healthcare and living arrangements. For an adult, the guardian’s focus extends to managing financial affairs, making medical decisions and ensuring overall well-being.

Guardianship Duration

Another key difference lies in the duration of guardianship. For minors, guardianship generally terminates when the child reaches legal adulthood at the age of 18, unless there are special circumstances that extend the guardianship. For adults, the guardianship might continue indefinitely, depending on the nature of the incapacitation and the adult’s ability to regain capacity.

Challenges in Guardianship

Guardianship carries significant legal and ethical responsibilities and challenges. It is a role that should not be taken lightly. Potential guardians must consider the long-term commitment and the profound impact they will have on the ward’s life.

While both types of guardianship aim to protect the vulnerable, the specific laws and processes for minors and adults reflect the differing needs of these groups. Whether dealing with a minor or an adult, the goal of guardianship in Texas is to provide safety, stability and a high quality of life.