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What is the priority list for choosing a guardian?

On Behalf of | Jan 13, 2022 | Fiduciary Representation |

If you name someone a guardian in Texas, or if someone names you a guardian, know that the designation is not necessarily set in stone. State law not only provides a priority list for choosing a guardian but also, specifies factors that may render a person ineligible for guardianship.

The Texas Probate Website sums up state laws and explains who the courts are likely to appoint as guardians as well as when it has the authority to skip over a person higher on the priority list. It is important that you understand both the priority list and what factors may render you or an appointed person ineligible for the important role of guardianship.

Texas guardianship priority list

If the Texas courts ascertain that a guardian is needed for a minor ward, they will first look to one or both surviving parents to determine if they can fulfill the role. If a minor does not have a surviving parent, or if the surviving parents are unfit, the courts will then consider the following individuals in the listed order:

  • The person who the last surviving parent designated via a properly executed designation
  • The minor’s nearest ascendant, such as a grandparent or great-grandparent
  • Next of kin
  • A close non-relative

In the case of an adult ward, the order of priority is as follows: The person the ward designated prior to his or her incapacitation and via a properly executed manner; the person the last surviving parent of the ward designated, if applicable; the adult ward’s spouse; next of kin; a non-relative.

Factors that may affect eligibility for guardianship

The court has the power to skip a person higher on the priority list if it determines that said person is legally ineligible for guardianship. Some factors that may disqualify a person for guardianship include a propensity for bad conduct; youth (minors cannot serve as guardians); incapacitation; conflict of interest with the ward; lack of Texas residency; lack of experience, education or sense to prudently and properly control and manage the ward’s estate; and an unfit finding by the court.

Whether you plan to appoint someone as a guardian or you yourself have a guardianship designation, it is important that you understand Texas’s laws regarding the subject. Failure to familiarize yourself with the state’s order of priority or disqualifying factors may interfere with your or a loved one’s wishes for the future.