The Rice Law Firm, PLLC                                    
Call:     832.510.9760
Email:  ricelawthewoodlands@gmail.com

Guardianship


DISCLAIMER:
The following questions were answered by an experienced guardianship lawyer in The Woodlands, Texas, however, there are provided for informational purposes only; therefore, they should not be construed as legal advice.  Contact an attorney in your area to discuss the facts of your case. There is no attorney-client relationship created via this website.

What type of guardianship cases does this law firm handle?

The Woodlands Guardianship Attorney handles Temporary and permanent Guardianship of Person and/or Estate for clients located in the Woodlands, Conroe, Spring, North Houston, Montgomery, Oak Ridge North, Shenandoah, Splendora, Magnolia, Tomball, and throughout Montgomery and North Harris county. More specifically, Woodlands Guardianship Lawyer handles guardianship of persons and estates for incapacitated adults suffering from dementia, alzheimer's disease (AD), mental retardation, down syndrome, autism, mental health and psychiatric disorders and other intellectual and developmental disabilities. Woodlands Guardianship Attorney also handles guardianship of persons and estates for minors (under 18 years old).  Prior to scheduling a consultation with the Woodlands Guardianship Lawyer, please visit our Initial Consultation page.

What is a Guardianship? 

A Guardianship is a process by which a court appoints a Guardian for a minor or an incapacitated adult, otherwise called the ward.  If the proposed ward is no legally competent to hire a lawyer, a court will appoint an attorney ad litem to represent the proposed ward throughout guardianship process.

What does “incapacitated mean?

A person is incapacitated if that person is unable to provide food, clothing or shelter for himself/herself, or to manage his/her financial affairs, due to a physical or mental condition (mental retardation, dementia, mental illness).  For purposes of guardianship, a minor (a person under 18 years old), is also considered “incapacitated”, therefore if a minor inherits outright from a life insurance or other assets, a guardianship of the estate of the minor may be needed if a financial institution will not distribute the assets any other way. 

What is a Guardian of the Person?  

A Guardian of the Person is a person appointed by the court to care for the physical well-being of the ward, in other words, the Guardian assists the Ward with food, clothing, shelter, and medical care.

What is a Guardian of the Estate?

 A Guardian of the Estate is a person appointed by the court to manage the property of the Ward and to make financial decisions for the ward.

Can the same person be Guardian of the Person and Estate? – Yes.

My mother suffered a severe stroke and she is unable to take care of herself.  She lives in the Woodlands and I live in Houston.  How do I become her guardian? 

Start by having your mother examined by a certified doctor. If the doctor concludes your mother is partially or fully incapacitated, then hire a guardianship attorney in the Woodlands to help you with the guardianship process, which starts by filing a guardianship application in county court of Montgomery County. 

My son is turning 18 in three months. He functions within the mild range of mental retardation.  How soon can a guardianship application be filed for my son?

Guardianship attorneys may file a guardianship application no earlier than 180 days before his 18th birthday.  The guardianship hearing will be held on or after his 18th birthday.

Our father who lives in Conroe has been diagnosed with dementia. My sister wants to move in with him to take care of him but she wants me to take care of his finances.  Can a guardianship attorney file an application in Houston where I live for me to become a guardian of the estate and an application for my sister in Conroe to become guardian of the person?  

If you and your sister get along, a court may appoint your sister as guardian of the person and you as guardian of the estate however, the guardianship attorney can file only one application and it should be filed in Montgomery County.

My brother has filed to become Guardian of the Estate for our father. I believe he is not fit to be a Guardian. What can I do?

Guardianship attorneys may assist you by contesting  and challenging your brother’s appointment and filing a competing guardianship application seeking the court to appoint you as Guardian of your father’s estate. However, you can do so only if your interest is not adverse to your father’s.  If your father is in fact ineligible to be appointed Guardian, your guardianship lawyer may file the appropriate motion with the court asking the judge to disqualify your brother, and if that attempt is not successful, a trial will resolve the issue.

If I ever become incapacitated, is there any way to direct the court to not appoint a certain family member as my guardian?

 Yes, "Declaration of Guardian in the Event of Later Incapacity or Need of Guardian” is a legal document which provides a way to disqualify your family member from serving as your guardian in the future, and it directs the court to appoint the family member that you have selected in your document.

My Mother had a severe brain damage from an accident. My sibling is using a Power of Attorney to take money out of our mother’s bank accounts. What can I do to protect our mother’s estate and stop my sibling from depleting our mother’s accounts?

 Your guardianship lawyer may file a Temporary Guardianship Application seeking the court to appoint you as his temporary guardian. The court will hold a hearing no later than 10 days after the date of filing. 

I was just appointed guardian of the person and estate of my father in Montgomery County. What are my duties as a guardian?

All guardianship cases in Montgomery County are handled by County Court at Law Number Two. The judge of CCL#2 has posted a very helpful handbook on the court's website summarizing the duties of the guardian of the person and those of guardian of the estate as follows: 

Guardian of the Person Handbook

Guardian of the Estate Handbook

It sounds like the guardianship process is expensive.  Is there any inexpensive way to prepare for the future in the event that I become incapacitated?

If you have the legal capacity to sign legal documents at this time, you can execute a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney, a Medical power of Attorney, and a Directive to Physician and Family and Surrogates.  Estate Planning Attorneys draft these estate planning documents routinely at low cost and they are excellent and inexpensive alternatives to Guardianship.

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a legal Document by which you appoint an agent (called “attorney-in-fact”) who will manage your financial affairs.  However, only a “Durable” Power of Attorney will survive incapacity (meaning, it will continue to be effective after you become incapacitated).

What is a Medical Power of Attorney?

A Medical Power of Attorney is a document by which you appoint an agent who will make health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated.

What is a Directive to Physicians and Family and surrogates?

This document is commonly known as a Living Will.  A Directive indicates your decision to withhold or withdraw life support if you are suffering from a terminal illness or an irreversible condition.