Applying for and sustaining a legal guardianship is a complicated process, even more so if the guardianship is contested by the proposed ward. If you are planning on applying for guardianship in Dallas, you will need experienced legal representation for your case to be successful. The Texas guardianship lawyers of Staubus and Randall have handled a large number of contested and uncontested guardianships. We have also successfully tried these cases in jury and non-jury trials.
If you are ready to begin the process of becoming a guardian, contact Staubus and Randall for a consultation to discuss your situation and find out how our team can help you.
What Is Guardianship?
Guardianship is obtained in a legal proceeding involving the issue of whether a person has become mentally incapable of handling their own financial affairs (guardianship of the estate) or making their own medical decisions, or living independently (guardianship of the person).
Guardianships often involve minors who inherit assets or who live with disabilities, injured or mentally incapacitated adults, and elderly individuals who have become mentally incapacitated because of an illness. In some cases, a person may wish to establish a guardianship to prevent an elderly family member from being financially abused or otherwise taken advantage of by another caregiver.
Anyone can apply to be a guardian, but for a petition to be successful, the applicant must be able to show that the potential ward is incapacitated or unable to make medical/financial decisions for themselves.
The number of Americans aged 65 or older was 54.1 million in 2019. By 2034, the number of people in that age group will have expanded to 77 million, and the average American lifespan is expected to continue to extend, reaching 83.37 in 2050. With the anticipated increase in people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, Staubus and Randall is committed to providing vigorous and empathetic guardianship representation to expertly meet these needs.
Guardianship of the Person in Texas
When creating a guardianship of the person, the court appoints a guardian to make personal and medical decisions on behalf of a ward. This may include decisions related to the ward’s healthcare, living situation and place of residence, basic needs (i.e., food, clothing), medications, and personal affairs. Guardianships of the person are often created for the benefit of an elderly parent or aging relative.
To obtain a guardianship, the applicant must file an application in probate court, typically in the county where the proposed ward resides. After a petition for guardianship has been filed, the court will designate an attorney ad litem to represent the proposed ward. Then, the court will hold a hearing to discuss the guardianship application.
The court will then determine whether there is a legitimate need for a guardianship. If the court approves the applicant’s petition, the county clerk will issue letters of guardianship. The guardian must submit an annual report to the court detailing the ward’s living situation and medical status.
Guardianship of the Estate in Texas
When a person is appointed as a guardian of the estate, they are responsible for managing the financial affairs of a ward who is incapable of making their own financial decisions. This could be an elderly relative who is mentally incapacitated or a child who has inherited property but is not yet of age.
The designated guardian has a fiduciary duty to the ward, meaning they must act in the best interests of the ward when making financial decisions on their behalf and must preserve the ward’s assets while serving as a guardian. Guardians of the estate are required to file a yearly account with the probate court.
As is the case with a guardianship of the person, applicants for a guardianship of the estate must file a guardianship petition with the probate court in the county where the proposed ward lives. The court will assign an attorney ad litem to represent the potential ward at a hearing, after which the court will issue a decision. If guardianship is approved, the court will order letters of guardianship. Guardians must post a bond to safeguard the ward’s assets from potential mismanagement.
Even after a petition for guardianship has been approved by a court, guardians still have many legal obligations to fulfill. By regularly consulting with a knowledgeable guardianship lawyer, you can ensure that you are complying with all necessary requirements.
How Staubus and Randall Can Help
When there is no dispute that the person in question lacks the capacity to make their own medical or financial decisions, our experience makes the guardianship process relatively simple. Whether you are petitioning for a guardianship of the person or a guardianship of the estate, we can guide you through the application process and represent you in court.
When the issue of capacity is contested by the proposed ward or by a family member or other party, a guardianship contest can become a hotly contested and complex case, requiring the knowledge, experience, and firepower of a boutique law firm team of experienced guardianship lawyers with specific guardianship trial experience.
We often represent family members in seeking guardianship of an aging parent or other family member who is the target of financial abuse, misuse of a power of attorney, neglect, or other forms of elder abuse. Typical warning signs giving rise to the need to pursue a guardianship of a vulnerable adult include sudden changes in power of attorney or estate plans, unusual banking activity, transfers of assets, or a caregiver or family member who isolates the elder from seeing or talking to their family members or friends.
We also defend people against guardianship actions brought by family members or others seeking to gain control of that person’s assets or place them in a nursing home against their will or who attempt to void existing powers of attorney.
In support of our guardianship representation, we maintain a network of recognized and respected medical and financial experts we can enlist to seek or defend against a guardianship application.
Contact a Dallas Guardianship Lawyer Today
Are you thinking about applying for guardianship in Dallas? If so, contact the Dallas guardianship attorneys at Staubus and Randall today by calling 214-691-3411 to set up a consultation with our experienced guardianship team. We will help you navigate the legal process and work tirelessly to achieve your desired outcome.