Guardianship Proceedings in Texas: Considering Scenarios of Care

EDITOR’S NOTE:

In a guardianship relationship, the “guardian” is charged with making decisions for the “ward,” i.e. the person being taken care of. There are various scenarios ranging from staying in one’s own home to being placed in a full-time care facility. This blog post provides an overview of the various scenarios, with a focus on guardianship proceedings under Texas law. Our Dallas law firm is happy to discuss your particular guardianship issues, including and up to guardianship disputes.

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In a guardianship proceeding, the guardian of the person often must decide the living arrangements of the ward. Sometimes this involves leaving the ward in the residential care or assisted living facility where they resided when the guardianship was established. Other times, it involves assessing whether the ward can continue to live in his or her own home.

All things being equal, the vast majority of adults ages 65 and older prefer to age in place in their own home and community. Ultimately, however, this consideration must

Guardianship Disputes

be balanced with a number of factors besides the ward’s personal preference. Aging in place allows the ward to preserve and maintain social networks and familiar routines in a familiar environment and can help maintain cognitive orientation. This option also avoids the disruption, disorientation and confusion often associated with a move and allows the ward to maintain a sense of security, independence, and privacy. On the other hand, residential facilities can offer increased supervision and personal care services, including meals and housekeeping, without the added worry of home maintenance. Residential facilities also offer a social environment where the ward can participate in activities that provide intellectual stimulation and socialization. The guardian will need to assess the ward’s functional abilities and areas of limitation and anticipate changing healthcare and nursing needs to determine the appropriate level of care required for the ward’s needs. Ultimately, the guardian must decide which option is both affordable and best suited to the individualized needs of the ward.

In some cases, the ward may have family or friends willing to serve as unpaid caregivers, allowing many to age in place without depleting the available resources. To the extent the ward’s functional abilities decline and their need for more intensive care increases, however, additional paid caregivers may be required, increasing the financial burden. Although Medicare or Medicaid (or in some cases private insurance) may help defray long-term care expenses, funding from these sources can be limited. Thus, the guardian must carefully balance the costs and the available resources to determine how to provide the highest level of care for the longest period possible. Those that require round the clock care are especially difficult cases when the ward prefers to age in place and resources are limited. The cost of round the clock home health aides may consume the financial resources in a shorter period of time. The same resources may cover an assisted living facility for an extended length of time.

If a move is involved, consider ways to ease the transition. For some individuals, a slow and deliberate transition may be best where they have a chance to visit and familiarize themselves with the idea and the new surroundings before making a move. The ward may ultimately be more accepting and less apprehensive if he or she perceives a degree of choice in the matter. On the other hand, if it is expected to be difficult or traumatic for the ward, a quick transition may be best. Keep in mind that the initial decision does not necessarily have to be the final decision and can often be reevaluated if necessary.

There are a variety of options and facilities to consider. Whatever the ultimate decision, there is no substitute for a thoughtful, reasoned evaluation.

EDITOR’S SUMMARY

As our society ages, more and more families are facing issues concerning guardianship. This blog post has reviewed a few scenarios with respect to guardianship. If you or your family are facing issues with respect to caring for someone and the issues surrounding guardianship, our attorneys can work with you to create the best legal arrangement with respect to Texas law and the unique situation of your family. For those facing a dispute on guardianship, our firm is also known as being one of the few firms in the Dallas, Texas, area with a focus on guardianship disputes up to and including litigation.