The purpose of guardianship is to legally designate the care of a person or property to another individual. There are two different types of guardianship: guardian of a person and guardian of property.
Guardianship of a Person
A guardian may be named for a minor or an incapacitated adult for a variety of circumstances.
- Guardians of Minors: Most often, this occurs in situations where a minor’s parents have passed away or are deemed to be unfit.
- Guardians of Incapacitated Adults: A guardian may be designated for an adult who is unable to provide for his or her own care because of physical or mental conditions.
In a guardianship, there are two parties: the guardian, or person appointed to give care; and the ward, the person in need of care.
Guardianship of a person grants the guardian sole custody of the ward. The guardian is legally obligated to provide daily necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter, as well as any necessary medical care. The guardian has the legal right to seek and consent to any needed medical or psychiatric care.
Guardianship of Property
Typically, when a guardian is named for a person, that guardian also oversees the ward’s property. In some cases, though, a different type of guardian may be appointed to manage the property of a ward. This is known as a guardian of the estate, or guardian of property.
A guardian of an estate is obligated under the law to uphold the standards of fiduciary duty. This means that he or she must responsibly manage the estate of the ward, making decisions only in the best interest of the ward and never for the personal gain of the guardian.
Depending on what state you live in, guardians of an estate must post a bond with the court to demonstrate their intent to fulfill their role in good faith. The guardian will need to file annual accountings of the estate with the proper court, including details of any actions taken. Such accountings should note the year’s beginning and ending balance, and payments made or income received, and receipts related to those transactions.
Choosing a Guardian
Under Texas law, guardianship is first and foremost the right of parents, unless they are deceased or deemed by a court to be unfit caretakers. If the parents have passed away, ideally they will have named a guardian in their will. This person would be given first consideration by the court.
If no guardian is named, then the closest relatives, such as grandparents and aunts/uncles, would have the highest priority. In cases where more than one person requests guardianship of the ward, it will be the decision of the court to choose the most qualified individual to serve the post.
Need help getting guardianship of a loved one? Get help from a Houston guardianship lawyer with Keith Morris Attorney at Law.