A guardianship is when a person is appointed by the court to look after another person’s financial and physical well-being. This is not always a great situation to be in since the court may appoint someone who would never be chosen by the individual or their family. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to avoid guardianship in Texas, or at the very least, to ensure the person you choose is named as your guardian if the situation arises.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a legal tool that grants an agent the authority to act on behalf of a person in financial matters, such as paying bills, buying and selling real estate, and conducting business dealings. The Power of Attorney helps avoid the necessity of a guardianship of your estate if you become incapacitated, since an agent is already appointed to handle financial decisions. This does not avoid a guardianship of the person (i.e., making healthcare decisions), so you still need a Medical Power of Attorney or Appointment of Guardianship to cover all bases.
Physician’s Directive and Medical Power of Attorney
The Physician’s Directive deals with end of life care while the Medical Power of Attorney names a person they trust to act as an agent in all healthcare matters in the event of incapacitation. Both are important legal tools that take effect when a person becomes incapacitated (such as being on a ventilator because of COVID-19). As with the Power of Attorney, the Healthcare Agent should be someone who understands the importance of this role and can be trusted to make important medical decisions. Otherwise, the Probate Court may have to appoint a guardian to make healthcare decisions for you.
Designation of Guardian
Even if both the Power of Attorney and Healthcare Agent documents fail (they shouldn’t, but it is possible) and a guardianship must be put in place, you should still get to choose the person that takes care of you, as long as you designate that person BEFORE you become incapacitated. Why leave it up to the courts to choose your guardian for you? The Designation of Guardian is the document that allows you to name the agent or agents that YOU would like to make financial and healthcare decisions for you if that becomes necessary. This document is generally accepted by medical professionals and can be presented to the Probate Court if guardianship proceedings are initiated to inform the judge who you wanted to serve in that role while you were sound of mind.
If you have any questions about how we can help you avoid a guardianship in Texas, please contact us at (817) 752-3307 to set up a consultation.