As we age, so do our parents and grandparents. Although it may be difficult to face, you may have a parent or grandparent who has been hit particularly hard by the aging process and now needs your help. Alzheimer’s and other age related dementia diseases, for example, can cause an elderly loved one to be at high risk for physical injury or financial victimization by unscrupulous predators who prey on the elderly. You may need to consider guardianship for your loved one. Before doing so, you likely want to know what are the advantages and disadvantages of guardianship in the State of Texas.
In Texas, you can be appointed as guardian of the person, guardian of the estate, or both. The purpose of guardianship is to protect and individual (the “ward”) who is unable to make decisions or care for himself/herself because of physical or mental disability. With the elderly, this is often the result of Alzheimer’s or another dementia related disease or condition. As guardian of the estate you will be authorized to make financial decisions for the ward and control assets of the ward’s estate. As guardian of the person you will be able to make day to day decision affecting the ward.
The major advantage to guardianship is that it allows you to control various aspects of your loved one’s life without having to get court approval for each decision or transaction. In short, guardianship is the most extensive option available. Once a guardianship has been established, you will usually have broad powers that allow you to care for and protect your loved one from injury or harm.
The major disadvantage to guardianship is that it takes the longest to establish and is usually more costly than other options because court approval is required. It can take months to establish a guardianship, particularly if someone opposes the guardianship.
If your parent, grandparent, or other loved one has already reached a point at which injury or harm is imminent due to a deteriorated mental state, guardianship may also be the only option available. While a power of attorney can accomplish some of the same goals as a guardianship, the Principal (person granting the power of attorney) must be legally capable of giving you POA. If your loved one is in an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s, for example, he or she no longer has the legal capability to grant POA, making guardianship the only option.
If you have specific questions about guardianship, consult with your Texas estate planning attorney right away.