Texas courts view guardianship as a last resort. Before a court will grant a guardianship, it must be satisfied that less restrictive alternatives (LRAs) and available supports and services are insufficient. Some of these LRAs include medical powers of attorney, statutory durable powers of attorney, supported decision making agreements, bill paying assistance, surrogate decision making agreements, representative payees, and more.
There are two types of guardianships in Texas: Guardian of the Person (GOP) and Guardian of the Estate (GOE). The GOP is responsible for the Ward's physical well-being; they decide where the Ward lives, what medical treatment the Ward receives, who has access to the Ward, etc. The GOE is responsible for the Ward's financial well being; they make financial decisions for the Ward such as buying or selling of property, investments, spending funds, etc. Some of these decisions are made by the GOE, but many of them require approval by the Court. The GOE must also file an annual accounting with the Court.
When our parents and friends age, they may be less able to care for themselves. Good estate planning in advance can often avoid the need for a guardianship for an elderly person. However, there are times when it is necessary. Texas courts require a certificate of medical examination from the proposed Ward' s physician before considering guardianship for an elderly person. An example of when an elderly person may be a good candidate for guardianship is if they did not execute powers of attorney while they had capacity and now are suffering from advanced dementia.
When a child's natural guardians, the parents, are unable to care for the child or they have passed away, a guardianship may be necessary. Schools and medical providers often require that a GOP be appointed prior to the child receiving their services.
A child may need to have a GOE appointed if they have inherited funds.