Guardianship is the legal process by which a Texas probate court appoints an individual (the “guardian”) to act on behalf of an incapacitated person (the “ward”). There are two types of guardianship: (1) of the person (taking care of the physical well-being of the ward) and (2) of the estate (taking care of the property, assets and business interests of the ward). One person may acts as guardian for both interests.
Guardianship may arise from any number of scenarios, but as an experienced estate lawyer may tell you, a contested guardianship often arises where an aging parent is involved. Initially, the parent may not believe him or herself to be incapacitated; more likely, there will be a conflict among siblings. Perhaps one does not believe Mom or Dad needs a guardianship or perhaps believes the choice of guardian is wrong.
In any case, the procedure is initiated by the proposed guardian filing an application with the probate court. An attorney will be appointed to represent the proposed ward’s interests, and notification of the application will be made to the ward’s spouse, adult children, and siblings, if any.
In this manner, those family members have the opportunity to object to either the necessity of a guardianship or the nomination of the guardian. The court’s own investigator will review the application and provide information to the court.
Although any suitable person may be appointed as guardian, priority under Texas law, as a estate lawyer explains, is given to spouses, parents, children and other close relatives. However, a person may be unsuitable because of a criminal record or inability to be bonded because of a bankruptcy or other credit problems.
To contest a guardianship, you must have some interest in the affairs of the ward. Typically, this is the result of a close family relationship, but it may also be a derivative of a financial relationship, such as that of a business partner.
Contested guardianship is a complex matter best handled under the guidance of an experienced estate lawyer. Call us today for a free initial consultation with regard to your estate planning matters.