Guardianship vs. Conservatorship in Texas

 Posted on March 07, 2024 in Estate Planning

Fort Worth estate planning lawyerWhen it comes to protecting the interests of individuals who are unable to make decisions for themselves, Texas law provides two primary options. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they have distinct differences that are important to understand. A Texas lawyer can help you explore the details of guardianship and conservatorship and help you determine which option may be best for your situation.

What is Guardianship?

Guardianship is a legal arrangement in which a court appoints a person (the guardian) to make decisions on behalf of another individual (the ward) who is unable to make those decisions for themselves. In Texas, guardianship can be established for minors, incapacitated adults, or persons with disabilities.

Types of Guardianship in Texas

Texas law recognizes two main types of guardianship:

  • Guardian of the Person: This kind of guardian is in charge of making choices concerning the personal care of the ward, including aspects such as accommodation, medical care, and education.
  • Guardian of the Estate: This type of guardian is responsible for managing the ward's financial affairs, including paying bills, investing assets, and making financial decisions on behalf of the ward.

In some cases, the same person may serve as both the guardian of the person and the guardian of the estate.

What is Conservatorship?

On the other hand, a conservatorship is a legal arrangement where a court selects a person (the conservator) to manage the financial affairs of another individual (the protected person) who cannot do so themselves. In Texas, people who are mentally sound but incapable of handling their financial matters due to age, illness, or disability commonly use conservatorship.

Critical Differences Between Guardianship and Conservatorship

While guardianship and conservatorship share some similarities, there are several key differences between the two:

  • Scope of Authority: A guardian has broad authority to make decisions related to the ward's personal care and financial affairs, while a conservator's authority is limited to managing the protected person's financial matters.
  • Mental Capacity: Guardianship is generally established for those who lack the mental ability to make their own decisions, while conservatorship is applied for those who are mentally capable but physically incapable of handling their financial matters.
  • Reporting Requirements: Guardians are required to submit annual reports to the court detailing the ward's condition and the actions taken on their behalf. Conversely, Conservators must file an inventory of the protected person's assets and provide regular accountings to the court.

Choosing Between Guardianship and Conservatorship

When deciding between guardianship and conservatorship, it is essential to consider the specific needs and circumstances of the individual in question. Guardianship may be the most appropriate option if the person lacks the mental capacity to make decisions independently and needs assistance with both personal care and financial matters. However, a conservatorship may be sufficient if the person is mentally competent but physically unable to manage their finances.

Consult with a Fort Worth, TX Estate Planning Attorney

Navigating the complexities of guardianship and conservatorship law can be challenging. Suppose you are considering establishing guardianship or conservatorship for a loved one. In that case, consulting with an experienced Fort Worth, TX estate planning lawyer specializing in these areas is crucial. They can help you understand your options, guide you through the legal process, and ensure that your loved one's best interests are protected. Call Gonzalez Law, PLLC at 817-349-7330 for a free consultation with our unique holistic and personalized approach.

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