Incapacitated adults and minor children both need protection and support from responsible guardians, and, under certain circumstances, it may be necessary to ask a court to appoint one.
At Fabio & Merrill in Houston, Texas, we help families through the guardianship process, whether a guardian is being sought for an adult or a child. Contact us to discuss how we can help you and your family.
Protecting Vulnerable Adults and Children
When a person is not capable of managing his or her affairs, the courts may appoint a guardian to take on legal responsibility for that person. Guardianship can be over the person — meaning the right to make residential, health care and other important decisions — and/or over the estate (property and financial affairs).
- Guardianship over adults: If an adult becomes incapacitated due to physical or mental illness, the court can appoint a guardian to ensure that the person's needs are met and that he or she is not exploited by those who would take advantage of vulnerable people.
- Guardianship over children: If a child's parents both die and do not appoint a guardian in their will, the court can appoint a guardian for the children. More common for children is guardianship over the estate. If a child inherits property, the parents do not automatically have the right to administer that property. If a trust has not been set up, a guardian must be appointed.
A court-appointed guardianship is always an emotional process in which a judge is asked to intervene in a family's affairs. We understand the sensitivity of this issue and will guide you through the process with respect for your concerns.
Avoiding Court-Appointed Guardianship
Court-directed guardianship over both adults and children can often be avoided through the estate planning process. Health care and financial powers of attorney can give a person of your choice sufficient authority so that a guardianship is unnecessary. Alternatively, by adopting an advance guardianship directive, you can name someone, including alternates, to become your guardian in case a guardianship becomes necessary due to your incapacity.
You can also adopt a guardianship directive and trust as part of your will or as one or more separate documents in order to provide for the care of your minor children if you die or become unable to care for them before they reach adulthood.
Contact us to talk to an experienced lawyer about your options under guardianship law for ensuring that your well-being and that of your loved ones are in good hands.