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Guardianship is the legal process that provides legal custody of a child or incapacitated adult to another. When the legal guardian of a child or incapacitated adult is no longer able to care for the individual, the court can grant temporary, limited, or full guardianship to another person to make sure the minor or incapacitated adult will be cared for.  

Guardianship is not something many people think about until an emergency occurs. Contact Sugar Land family and estates law attorneys at the Law Offices of Kimberly D. Moss, PLLC to understand the guardianship process in Texas.

Guardianship Process in Texas

There are many reasons why a guardian may be unable to care for a child or an incapacitated adult. This may be caused by:

  • Serious disease or illness, 
  • Death,
  • Financial problems, or 
  • Incarceration. 

Under the Texas Estates Code, guardianship proceedings are available for incapacitated persons, defined as:  

  1. A minor;
  2. An adult who is unable to provide for their basic needs, care for their physical health, or manage finances because of a physical or mental condition; or
  3. A person who must have a guardian appointed to receive government funds.

Generally, one person is appointed as guardian of the person or estate. The guardian has many responsibilities, and anyone considering guardianship should consider the duties required by being appointed a legal guardian. Responsibilities may include: 

  • Receiving guardianship training; 
  • Managing the individual's financial affairs to provide for their best interests;
  • Providing basic care (food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education); 
  • Providing an annual report to the court; and
  • Maintaining financial records. 

Minor Guardianship 

The individual appointed as guardian will be based on what is in the child's best interest and the relationship of the individual to the child, generally based on the following order of preference:

  1. Parent, 
  2. Individual designated as guardian by the last surviving parent, 
  3. Nearest ascendant or relative in the direct line of the minor,
  4. Nearest of kin, then
  5. Court-appointed qualified person.  

A temporary change in circumstances may not require guardianship. There may be alternative ways to care for a minor when a parent is not able to, including power of attorney to give temporary responsibility to another family member. 

Guardianship for an Incapacitated Adult

Guardianship for an incapacitated adult may be necessary when the adult is unable to care for themselves because of a mental or physical disability, mental disorder, or incapacity. This commonly involves parents caring for incapacitated adult children, or someone caring for a spouse after an incapacitating accident, injury, or illness. 

The subject of guardianship is known as a “ward.” Guardianship of an incapacitated adult may provide for limited guardianship when the adult is able to provide for some of their basic needs. Limited guardianship can spell out specific duties and responsibilities of the guardian, including managing property and financial affairs but allowing the ward to handle their own day-to-day basic care. If the ward later becomes fully incapacitated, the court may award full guardianship. 

Sugar Land Attorneys

The attorneys at Law Offices of Kimberly D. Moss, PLLC are here to help you plan for the future. Representing families throughout the Houston area, we strive to go above and beyond in meeting the needs of our clients. Contact us today online or by phone at (713) 574-8626. 


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