Attorney ad Litem Ethics in Guardianships – Part 1

In guardianship cases, the Court can recruit and appoint a number of individuals to assist in the case.  Attorneys can play several roles in these cases.  The role we play most often is Attorney ad Litem – the lawyer for the allegedly incapacitated person.

Every alleged incapacitated person is entitled to legal representation as a matter of due process.  They face the prospect of losing certain rights and decision-making abilities, and our Courts approach that potential consequence cautiously and judiciously.

So, it should come as no surprise that our Legislature and our Courts maintain standards and expectations for attorneys that volunteer to be appointed as counsel for proposed wards.  These attorneys are required to gain certification for their specific role, and that certification must be renewed and updated periodically.  A major element of the certification training is learning how to represent these vulnerable individuals responsibly and ethically.

Over the next days and weeks, we’ll devote a number of blog posts to the ethical challenges and questions faced most often by these lawyers.  From effectively communicating our client’s desires to advocating without causing undue hardship on the parties, ethics play a significant part in how Texas guardianships work.