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Bills aim to make changes to guardianship system in Texas

One of the aims of guardianships is to protect vulnerable individuals whose decision-making abilities have been impaired. Individuals with disabilities and elderly individuals are among the vulnerable individuals who are sometimes put under guardianships here in Texas. In some instances, a guardianship can be an invaluable tool in making sure a vulnerable individual's best interests are being looked out for.

Now, there are some criticisms that have been leveled against the guardianship system here in Texas. Some of these criticisms include:

  • That there is sometimes insufficient oversight of guardianships after they have been set up. 
  • That guardianships sometimes take more legal rights away from a vulnerable adult than is necessary. 

Two bills are currently before Texas' legislature that are aimed at addressing these criticisms. 

One of the bills would make a variety of changes to the rules regarding guardianships, including changes on the rules placed on guardians. 

The other bill would create a new alternative to guardianship. Under this alternative, rather than a guardian being appointed for a vulnerable individual, a "supporter" could be put in place. A "supporter" is a person who would assist a vulnerable individual with making decisions. Thus, it could end up being a less extensive transfer of decision-making authority than a guardianship typically is. 

Changes to the state's guardianship system could be very impactful, given how common guardianships are becoming in Texas. Since 2011, the number of active guardianships in the state has gone up by 60 percent. Currently, there are over 50,000 guardianships in the state. 

What impacts do you think the two bills, if passed, would have? Do you think they would improve the guardianship system here in Texas? Should the bills be passed?

Guardianship law can be quite complex and there are many things can impact whether a guardianship is right for a given situation. Families of vulnerable adults who are wondering if requesting a guardianship would be the right way to protect their loved one should consider talking with an attorney.   

Source: Star-Telegram, "Bills would address guardianship issues," Terri Langford, April 26, 2015

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