The Texas Estate Code allows the courts to appoint a guardian to oversee an individual’s property, assets and finances. As noted by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, adults with a physical or mental impairment who cannot manage their financial and personal affairs may require a guardian.
After a judge establishes guardianship, an individual becomes their ward under the supervision of the Lone Star State. To prevent the court from appointing a legal guardian, individuals or their families may choose one as part of their estate planning documentation.
Naming a legal guardian to oversee assets
As noted by the AARP, a named guardian has the legal authority to oversee an individual’s financial matters. An estate plan that includes a durable power of attorney, for example, allows an individual to proactively name a trusted proxy and forego the need for a future court-appointed guardianship. Individuals who wish to create a POA for themselves must do so while they have the mental capacity.
Recognizing when an individual may require assistance
Signs that an individual may benefit from guardianship often include unusual and noticeable financial mistakes. Sudden changes in an individual’s mood or banking habits, for example, may indicate an increased vulnerability to abuse or exploitation. Some red flags that may indicate an individual needs a trusted guardian include finding unpaid bills, unusual liens or disconnected utilities.
Preventing the abuse of a vulnerable individual
Without preparing for a financial proxy before an unexpected illness or incapacitation, a trusted caregiver or relative may begin taking advantage of a vulnerable adult. A detailed power of attorney, however, does more than name a trusted guardian; it may also provide clear directives on how to manage property and finances.