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There are useful alternatives to appointing a guardian

Appointing a guardian to make important decisions for a loved one can be a difficult process for many families in Texas. When a loved one is apparently disabled, the emotional toll on family members is often a concern. The rules and standards that apply in appointing a guardian can also be cumbersome.

In October, we discussed the standards and explained some of the terminology involved in guardianship proceedings (including emphasizing that the concept of a conservatorship involving an incapacitated adult is addressed under the legal term guardianship). We also discussed how having a guardian appointed can allow a family to choose a trusted person to make decision on behalf of the disabled family member.

Notably, there are a number of estate planning tools that may be used to avoid the necessity of appointing a guardian when a loved one is not deemed to be incapacitated. In many ways, creating an instrument in advance can be a powerful tool in avoiding the difficult process of appointing a guardian.

Guardians typically are empowered to make decisions on behalf of a ward or the ward’s estate. Legal instruments known as powers of attorney, living wills, trusts and other documents may provide authority to a representative to make limited decisions on behalf of a family member. A durable power of attorney, for instance, can authorize a person to handle important legal decision and financial matters, such as paying a mortgage.

A medical power of attorney is a beneficial tool to direct a trusted person to make healthcare decisions on behalf of another. Similarly, a living will (also known as a medical directive or directive to physicians) provides medical professionals with guidance concerning end-of-life and other medical decisions.

There are many alternatives to seeking a guardianship that may be beneficial tools for individuals and families to find peace of mind in the care of a loved one. We invite you to learn more by visiting our Alternatives to Guardianship page.

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