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214-691-3411
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Dallas Estate Litigation Attorneys for Guardianship Disputes

The decision to establish guardianship for someone you love is not one that anyone takes lightly, however necessary it may be. Yet this process can become even more emotionally challenging and complex when other family members choose to contest the guardianship. This could happen because they believe that someone else should have been appointed guardian or because they do not believe that the person in question needs to have a guardian at all.

If you are part of a family currently in dispute about the designation of a guardian, you need the help of a lawyer with extensive experience in estate litigation. The skilled and trusted Dallas estate litigation attorneys of Staubus and Randall have previously helped many Texas families in guardianship disputes. We have a thorough understanding of guardianship litigation laws and know how to resolve differences between family members while advocating for your loved one’s best interests.

Call our offices today at 214-691-3411 or contact us online for a confidential consultation to find out what your legal options are.

What Is a Guardianship?

A guardianship is a legal relationship established by a court, in which one person becomes the guardian, or decision-maker, for an incapacitated individual called the “ward.” The ward is generally someone unable to manage their own finances or care for themselves. They can be a senior citizen with dementia, a mentally or developmentally challenged adult, or a minor.

Guardianships of Person and Estate

A guardianship involves two aspects: guardianship of the person and guardianship of an estate. The same person may be appointed to serve in both roles. While parents or co-conservators of a child can serve as guardians together, most other cases allow for only one guardian at a time.

  • Guardian of the person – This role requires an individual to make personal and medical decisions for the ward. This means they are responsible for the ward’s physical care, including housing, food, healthcare, and educational needs.
  • Guardian of the estate – This role requires an individual to care for the ward’s financial interests, including income, expenses, assets, and liabilities.

How Do Courts Decide Who Is Appointed Guardian?

In Texas, courts assign guardianships via a top-down approach that prioritizes family members over non-family individuals.

If the ward is an adult, courts will assign guardianship in the following order:

  • The person whom the ward designated to have guardianship before the ward became incapacitated
  • The ward’s spouse
  • A non-relative individual whom the court deems satisfactory as an appropriate guardian.

If the ward is a minor, the courts will assign guardianship in the following order:

  • Parents
  • The person the last surviving parent has designated for guardianship of the child
  • The nearest ascendant to the child after the parents (generally a grandparent, an aunt, or an uncle)
  • A non-relative individual whom the court deems satisfactory as an appropriate guardian

In any case, if more than one person qualifies as guardian, the court will determine which candidate will be in the ward’s best interests.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Guardian in Texas?

The state of Texas requires that a guardian must meet certain legal responsibilities. They are held to high standards of behavior when it comes to their duty of care for the ward.

Responsibilities may include:

  • Posting a bond for an amount determined by the court and taking an oath swearing that they will fulfill their responsibilities and duties. This bond is an insurance policy designed to protect the ward’s assets if the guardian takes actions that create financial loss to the ward’s estate.
  • Moving estate assets in the best interests of the ward.
  • Providing for the ward’s needs to the extent allowed by the ward’s resources
  • Filing an annual account of the estate’s annual receipts and disbursements.
  • Filing an inventory of the ward’s assets.
  • Requesting permission and approval of the court for certain actions taken on behalf of the ward.

Disputing the Need for a Guardianship

Not everyone in a family will agree that the individual in question needs a guardian. Certain family members may assert that the intended ward retains the necessary mental capacity to make decisions and to take care of themselves and their finances. The experienced attorneys at Staubus and Randall have experience working with families to resolve these disputes. We will work with the family members involved to review the necessary facts while keeping the intended ward’s best interests at the center of all conversations.

Contesting the Appointed Guardian

Even if family members agree that a guardian is necessary for the ward, they may have different ideas about who the appropriate person to serve as guardian should be. If such a case involves an adult, the courts would attempt to appoint the guardian according to the wishes of the ward if they made these wishes known before they became incapacitated.

If no such wishes were expressed, the courts will decide based on the top-down approach outlined above.

However, there are times when family members contest a guardianship because they believe that the person appointed is failing to take adequate care of the ward. If there is reason to believe that the guardian is abusing their power or making careless mistakes regarding the management of the ward’s estate, the guardianship dispute lawyers of Staubus and Randall can investigate whether the guardian has behaved appropriately and reasonably.

Contact an Experienced Dallas Estate Litigation Attorney Today

If you and your family are engaged in a guardianship dispute over a loved one, it is essential that you have skilled and knowledgeable legal representation on your side. The experienced estate litigation attorneys at Staubus and Randall recognize how emotionally challenging it can be to deal with issues of contested guardianship in Texas. We will work to find a resolution while keeping your loved one’s best interest in mind. We will sit with you and carefully review your issue, and we will offer our advice on what your legal options are.

Call us today at 214-691-3411 or contact us online for a free consultation and let us get to work for you.

The Firm

The attorneys at Staubus and Randall have over 100 years of combined experience in estate planning, probate, and litigation. We have the knowledge and skills to tackle complex legal issues, such as guardianships, will contests, fiduciary litigation, and trust litigation. We can also handle routine matters, such as estate administration, probating wills, heirship determinations, and other probate court matters.

Staubus and Randall received a preeminent AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating possible from a peer-rated legal service. This rating recognizes our hard work, dedication, and the case results we’re able to achieve.

Staubus & Randall Team

What Our Clients Say

"I recently had the occasion to hire Mr. Staubus for a hotly contested Guardianship matter. Mr. Staubus brought a rare combination of effectiveness, reasonableness and understanding of the human element involved. Mr. Staubus handled all things in a calm, highly competent, effective and reasonable way. It could not have been as easy as he made it seem. He's a credit to the Bar."

Jody

"Before retaining the guidance of the Staubus & Randall firm, I was at my wit's end trying to close an uncle's estate as a co-executor. In addition to dealing with difficult heirs, I had other pressing business issues coming up immediately on estate land in the middle of the Eagleford Shale including dealings with pipeline, seismic, oil & gas, and construction companies. The local bank also refused to give me access to information relating to the estate. This quickly became the most stressful and desperate time in my life...and then I found Joseph Legere who truly became my guardian angel. He was able to get all issues resolved efficiently and the estate fully closed. His professionalism, immense legal knowledge on a wide variety of topics, and amazing communication skills took the burdens off of me and quickly got closure. I am forever indebted to this firm for giving me my life back."

Martha

"Without exception, the legal service, professional attitude, prompt communication of your firm and your legal knowledge is second to none. I only wish I had an attorney here in Boston that could hold a candle to your experience and expertise. Working with you has been a pleasure, but even more, has made me believe that there are knowledgeable attorneys that do care about doing a good job. Thank you Keith! You may not truly understand how much of an impact you are having on peoples lives, but for me, you have helped change my life. As I begin making my dreams come true I can't help but remember none of this would be possible without you."

Joann

"Keith Staubus and Julie Blankenship and their team represented me in a jury trial in the probate court where the ownership of the business which I had worked hard to build was at stake. They successfully fought to preserve my business and my professional reputation, working masterfully to gain the support of the jury. I would not hesitate to hire them again in any bet-the-company litigation.”

Karen

"I have required legal representation twice in my life in two separate will contests. Both times I sought assistance from Keith Staubus and Staubus/Randall. Their service, approach, and determination to obtain results exceeded the other attorneys in each case. Mr. Staubus has always come across as genuine while being direct. He gets the process done in a timely manner with results. I will certainly use him again when and if any new challenges arise.”

David

"After my husband's death, I was devastated by having to defend against a vicious dispute over my husband's estate. Julie Blankenship and Keith Staubus made me feel very comfortable in this distressing situation. They were very tough and did an excellent job for me in obtaining a summary judgment in my favor without a full jury trial. I was glad to have them and Diane Walker in my corner to help me achieve an excellent result - I won! If I ever had to go back to probate court, I would hire them again.” - (will and trust construction case)

Flo

"If you need intervention for someone you love but don't know where to turn or who to turn to, Julie Blankenship and Keith Staubus helped me through the most difficult and stressful time in my life with a much loved family member. I now believe that good will triumph over evil. They fought for what was right, and good prevailed." (contested guardianship and will contest)

Janet

"As a professional money manager, I have used Ryan Randall's estate planning services both personally and for my clients. Ryan has exhibited three critical attributes in his work with me: (1) high intellectual capacity, (2) exceptional thoroughness, and (3) a total commitment to integrity. In today's litigious world, it can be quite costly not to "get things done right.” An added bonus to us was that we found one of the nicest people we could imagine.”

John

"I was represented by Keith Staubus as an income beneficiary in a lawsuit with the trustee of a family trust. Utilizing the expertise of a forensic accountant and his own trust expertise, Keith was able to negotiate a judicial modification of the trust providing for the buyout of my income interest for a substantial lump sum payment out of the trust, resulting in a win-win situation for all of the parties. I highly recommend Staubus/Randall for any trust disputes and trust modification actions."

Kathy

"I have been a wealth management specialist and retirement plan consultant with the Dallas/Fort Worth financial community for over 20 years. I have engaged Ryan Randall to work with a number of my best clients over the years, including business owners, professionals and families. My clients always appreciate Ryan’s straightforward approach to estate planning, asset protection planning and business succession planning. He makes even the most sophisticated estate planning strategies understandable."

Larry

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