If someone you know in Texas lacks mental capacity, he or she may need a legal guardianship in place. Guardianships help protect vulnerable people from harm by allowing other people to make consequential decisions for them. When seeking to establish a guardianship, you should find experienced legal representation to guide you through the process.
What Is a Guardianship?
A guardian is a legally appointed person who makes decisions for another incapacitated person. Guardians can be guardians of the person or of the estate. A guardian of the person handles medical decisions, food, shelter, and other personal needs. A guardian of the estate takes care of the finances, taxes, and bills. Guardians have a lot of responsibility for the well-being of their wards (ward is the legal term for the person a guardian helps).
Why Does Capacity Matter for Guardianship?
The Texas courts appoint guardians for incapacitated people. Someone is “incapacitated” as defined by law if he or she is an “adult who, because of a physical or mental condition, is substantially unable to:
(A) provide food, clothing, or shelter for himself or herself;
(B) care for the person’s own physical health; or
(C) manage the person’s own financial affairs”. Texas Estates Code Sec. 22.016.
Essentially, guardians help adults who have trouble meeting their own everyday needs, personal or financial or both. In addition, minors may be considered incapacitated for guardianship purposes. Finally, someone may have a guardian appointed if he or she needs the guardianship in place to receive funds due from a government source.
Does My Family Member Lack Mental Capacity?
People experiencing the following may qualify as mentally incapacitated:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Developmental special needs
- Schizophrenia or other psychiatric illnesses
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) or concussion
In addition, other mental conditions may result in someone being found mentally incapacitated. Unfortunately, these conditions can leave affected people without the ability to provide themselves with food, shelter, or clothing. They also may have difficulty caring for their own physical health, getting the medications they need, or making treatment decisions. Finally, they might have trouble handling financial affairs such as maintaining a bank account, paying bills, or preparing taxes.
Only the court can determine if someone is legally incapacitated due to a mental condition. Evaluating whether someone is incapacitated may involve reviewing medical records or even hearing witness testimony about the person’s mental state. You should seek legal help with a guardianship case if you believe someone close to you is mentally incapacitated, so that you can build the strongest argument for appointing a guardian.
How Can You Get Help with a Guardianship for a Mentally Incapacitated Person?
When you know someone who needs help to manage their everyday affairs, seeking a guardianship may seem like too much. You may think that everything is going well because family or friends assist the person with a mental condition. However, caring for someone who has a serious mental condition can take a huge toll on caregivers. A guardian may be the best option for someone who needs substantial assistance with day-to-day needs.
If you think that the court should appoint a guardian for someone you know, ask for legal advice first. You want to be prepared for the court proceeding by developing the best case for guardianship possible. This may involve many steps such as obtaining medical records or documenting the fitness of a proposed guardian.
At our firm, we assist clients with guardianship proceedings regularly, including contested guardianships (when someone does not agree that the proposed guardian should be approved). We know the process and understand what to prepare for the court. You can rely on our experienced and knowledgeable lawyers to help you with a guardianship issue. Call us today for advice.
Our Lawyers Are Here for You
The attorneys at Henke, Williams & Boll assist clients like you with guardianship proceedings and other legal matters. But we don’t just help a little. We use our extensive knowledge of the Texas legal system to build the best case we can for you.
We represent clients in the Houston area, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Waller County, Fort Bend County, Galveston County, and Brazoria County. For a free consultation or phone appointment, call (713) 936-5521 or use the convenient contact form located on our website.