None of us like to dwell on the fact that as we age, so do our parents. Eventually, the parent that once took care of you may need to be taken care of by you. This role reversal could be nothing more than a result of the natural aging process. However, it could also point to far more concerning issues.
If you notice that your parent’s physical and/or mental health is continuing to deteriorate, it may be time to step in and take legal action. Doing so could prevent your parent from serious harm. Adult guardianship could be the solution. Reluctance to consider guardianship is natural. You might feel like it will strip your parent of his/her freedom and independence. Keep in mind, however, that failing to consider guardianship as an option could result in your parent suffering serious physical injury. They could also become the victim of financial predators who prey on vulnerable seniors.
What Is Guardianship in Texas?
Guardianship is a legal relationship whereby someone is appointed by a court to be a “guardian” for someone else, known as the “ward.” This happens when a person is unable to safely manage his/her financial affairs and/or the daily tasks of living.
Before a court will consider appointing a guardian for an adult the court must be convinced that the proposed ward is incapacitated. In the State of Texas, an incapacitated person is someone who, “because of physical or mental condition, is substantially unable to provide food, clothing or shelter for himself or herself, to care for his or her own physical health, or to manage his or her own financial affairs.”
When Is Guardianship Warranted?
The decisions to pursue an adult guardianship over a parent is rarely an easy decision to make. It is also a highly personal decision. Ultimately, it is up to your discretion whether or not you think a guardianship is warranted; however, some common signs that may point to the need for a guardian include:
- Physical deterioration
- Forgetting simple things, such as a child’s birthday or what year it is
- Rapid and unexplained weight loss
- Failure to take care of personal hygiene
- Bills piling up unpaid when the funds exist to pay them
- Failure to take medication as prescribed
- Anger, hostility, frustration
What Authority Does a Guardian Have?
In the State of Texas there are two types of guardian — a guardian of the person and a guardian of the estate. You could be appointed as either type of guardian, or as both. A guardian of the person will have the authority to decide things such as:
- Where the ward will live.
- Whether to limit contact with family and friends.
- What medical or psychological treatment the ward will receive.
- Where the ward can go.
- What personal rights the ward will have, such as whether the ward may drive a vehicle.
A guardian of the estate will have the authority to do things such as:
- Decide what should be done with the ward’s property.
- Decide which bills to pay and when.
- Invest the ward’s money.
- Enter into a contract to buy or sell property in the ward’s name.
How Do I Become My Parents Guardian?
To become a guardian you must first petition a court. A judge decides whether a guardianship is warranted and if you are an appropriate guardian. Keep in mind that guardianship is considered the most restrictive option. Therefore, it can be difficult to convince a judge to grant a petition for guardianship. This is why it is wise to work closely with an experienced Texas estate planning attorney if you decide to pursue guardianship over a parent.
For additional information regarding the guardianship process in the State of Texas, or to get started with your petition for guardianship, contact the experienced Texas estate planning attorneys at The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. by calling 281-759-3213 to schedule your appointment today.