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Texas law sets priorities in how guardians are appointed

You may believe you know best when it comes to appointing a guardian for someone who needs one, but the state of Texas doesn't make the same assumption. State law lays out rather clear guidelines for courts as they are faced with deciding who should serve as a guardian.

Of course, as we noted in the previous post, the first thing that has to happen is that the court has to determine if and when a guardian is needed. The conditions for such an appointment might be that a minor child no longer has the benefit of either of his or her parents. In other situations, it might be that a person has become incapacitated due to injury or illness requiring that the naming of a guardian or conservator.

Regardless of the circumstances, state law indicates an initial list by prioritizing who should be named. If the ward in question is a child, parents come in first. Next comes any person who may have been designated in a designation document properly executed by the child's last surviving parent.

Ascendant relatives fall next in line. These would be grandparents or great-grandparents of a minor child. After that comes other next of kin, such as an aunt or uncle. Next on the priority list would be some non-relative that the court deems qualified.

If the applicant ward is an adult, the list changes only slightly. At the top of the list is that person who may have been identified by the applicant before their incapacitation. Once again, this is something that is done through the execution of a proper legal document. If the applicant is married, the spouse is often the designated guardian. However, it could be some next of kin or someone who is capable but a non-relative.

Things that might disqualify a potential guardian might include a history of bad conduct, inexperience, lack of education or a clear conflict of interest.

Clearly, to be sure that your estate plans fit the parameters of the law, it's important to work with an experienced attorney.

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