You’re a guardian — now what?

If you have been appointed to serve as guardian of the person or estate of a ward, you have already experienced the routine guardianship proceeding as described here and are now what Texas law calls a “fiduciary.” As a fiduciary, your conduct is subject to a very high standard, and you must always ensure that you are acting in the ward’s best interests and according to the law.

 

A court can appoint a guardian for a ward to help with two areas – the ward’s personal care, and the ward’s finances. So there are two types of guardianship – of the person and of the estate. A guardianship of the person applies when a ward needs assistance with medical care, living arrangements, and activities of daily living. A guardian of the estate applies to help a ward pay bills and help with other financial needs, including protecting the ward’s financial assets from theft, waste, or fraud.

 

After you are appointed as guardian of the person or estate, you have ongoing requirements you must fulfill with the probate court. Both guardians must maintain their bonds. The guardian of the person most likely has a personal surety bond. The guardian of the estate will most likely have a corporate surety bond, which requires an annual premium and proof to the court that your bond is current.

 

Further, the guardian of the person must visit the ward and remain personally involved with the ward’s care, in addition to filing an annual report. The guardian of the estate, among other duties, must file an annual accounting with the court. This annual account is a detailed record of all financial transactions the guardian has undertaken on the ward’s behalf. The probate court auditor will review the annual account carefully, and then the judge will approve it if it is acceptable.

 

Agreeing to serve as guardian of the person or estate of a ward is not an easy decision nor is it an easy job. As such, it is vital for you as guardian to ensure that you are aware of your legal duties as a guardian and that you fulfill them.