Saturday, March 29, 2008

What is a “Declaration of Guardian?”

Another method for people to address potential injury, illness, or incapacity is by creating a “declaration of guardian” in advance, to ensure that a trusted individual will be appointed to make medical and financial decisions in the event that you are no longer able to make them for yourself. Texas law also permits people to designate the future guardian of their children.

You can designate separate guardians over your estate (i.e., the guardian who will handle your property and manage your financial affairs) and over your person (i.e., the guardian who will make medical decisions for you and oversee day-to-day decisions about your personal care, including living arrangements).

If you have not executed a declaration of guardian or a power of attorney before you become incapacitated, a court may need to appoint a guardian to make medical and/or financial decisions for you. This can be an expensive process, and often leads to (or results from) family disagreements about how best to care for their loved one; attorneys often recommend executing a declaration or power of attorney in order to resolve these potential issues before the need arises. However, care should be taken when you execute both a declaration of guardian and a power of attorney. You do not want to inadvertently give multiple persons the same legal rights to manage your affairs as a result of conflicting documents.