Hammerle Finley Law Firm's Elder Law attorneys help individuals and families prepare for and address issues surrounding aging. Our services include wills, trusts, and estate planning, probate, guardianship, and government benefits planning, such as Medicaid.
Our Elder Law practice focuses on helping clients maximize their quality of life in their elder years.
Guardianship is the legal process by which the person and property of incapacitated individual are protected. In Texas, we have two types of guardianship: Guardianship of the Person and Guardianship of the Estate. A guardian of a person is responsible for seeing the incapacitated person has food, clothing, shelter and medical care. A guardian of an estate is responsible for protecting the property and income of the incapacitated person and spending those funds for the incapacitated person’s benefit under the supervision of the probate court. We assist clients in all facets of Guardianship proceedings. We have represented applicants, contestants, family members, proposed wards, and other interested individuals and entities. Robert Morris and Virginia Hammerle are certified as Ad Litems by the Texas Supreme Court.
Many of our clients seek our help with an elderly parent suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Our attorneys have many years of experience in this field and are here to help you at this difficult time.
These types of services are most commonly needed when:
- An elderly parent is no longer able to make medical or financial decisions;
- A disabled child becomes an adult; or
- A minor needs to make a financial transaction in his or her own name, or owns funds that need to be invested.
Hammerle Finley Law has what you are looking for: the practical knowledge to serve your legal needs today, and the vision to help you prepare for your legal needs tomorrow. Our firm is AV-rated under Martindale Hubbell’s Peer Review RatingTM process.
The Guardianship Process
There are two ways a guardianship can be initiated in Texas.
In the first, the Court receives an information letter or other information that leads the court to find probably cause that a person is without a current Texas guardian and may be incapacitated. The Court appoints a guardian ad litem or a court investigator to investigate the proposed ward's condition. From that investigation, an application for guardianship is filed by the guardian ad litem or the court investigator.
In the second, a person without an adverse interest files an application in guardianship.
The Court appoints an attorney ad litem to present the proposed ward. At this point, the court could also appoint a guardian ad litem for the proposed ward (the guardian ad litem represents the best interests of the proposed ward), or appoint a temporary guardian.
Notice of the application is posted publicly and served, or sent, to the proposed Ward and all interested persons.
A doctor examines the proposed ward to determine if the ward is suffering from partial or complete incapacity.
The court investigator (if it is a statutory probate court) investigates the circumstances of the proposed guardianship and files a report. Denton, Collin, Tarrant and Dallas Counties have statutory probate courts and court investigators.
The Court may appoint a court visitor.
The Guardianship may be contested by any person "without an adverse interest" to the proposed Ward.
The Court obtains a criminal history for proposed guardians, other than family members, an attorney or a person who has been certified as a guardian.
The Court holds a hearing on the guardianship application, and determines if a guardian is necessary. The Court has to consider if lesser restrictive alternatives to a guardianship will work.
If the Court does appoint a guardian, then the Court also prescribes the guardian powers. The Guardian takes and oath and files a bond (if ordered by the Court), and the Clerk issues letters of guardianship.
At that point, the guardianship administration begins.
Hammerle Finley Law Firm has represented clients for more than 35 years inside and outside the courtroom. We provide effective, strategic, and cost-effective legal counsel so that our clients can focus on what matters most to them.
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