Does my loved one need a Guardian?

If you’re concerned that your elderly loved one has become careless or reckless with their finances, there is a solution. Elliott Burdette explains what it means to be an “incapacitated person”, and how a Guardianship works in those situations.


Prospective Client: My Mother passed away a few years ago. And my Dad is on his own. He’s 86. We are a little concerned that he’s doing strange things – like we found some ads from the Philippines and we are concerned he might be doing something strange on the internet. We just aren’t sure. What can we possibly do to safeguard him?

Burdette: So, you’re concerned about him foolishly spending money?

Prospective Client: Yes. Absolutely.

Burdette: There are some things you can do. People are entitled to spend their money however they want, unless they are considered to be an incapacitated person. In Texas, that is connected with something called a guardianship. A guardianship is a severe remedy in which you essentially take away someone’s rights to control their person or their estate, their money. And you do this after a showing in Court that this person is not able to properly look after their finances anymore. This happens with some frequency with older people because there’s no clear cut line in which someone is capable and then something happens in their life and they start foolishly giving away a lifetime of savings to other people, sometimes through the mail and sending it off to far corners of the world. A guardianship application could be made by you, or one of your brothers or sisters. You will have to have a doctor examine your father, and if he won’t go voluntarily to a doctor, you can request an independent medical examination be ordered by a judge. In Dallas County we have an excellent Court investigator system where these well-trained people go out and interview the proposed incapacitated person and report back to the Court. Courts don’t do this lightly and actually prefer a lesser restrictive alternative than a guardianship, but sometimes getting a guardianship of the estate is the only way you can protect people from themselves.