Dallas Probate, Wills and Guardianships Attorney

Dallas Probate Attorney

Dallas Probate Attorney, Collin County Probate Attorney, Denton County Probate Attorney, Tarrant County Probate Attorney

Guardian's Information Page

A guardian has several rights at his or her disposal to help the guardian care for the ward.  The guardian also has certain duties that must be fulfilled in order to care for the ward and his or her property, and to keep the Probate Court appraised of the status of the ward and the estate.

Guardian of the Person

In general, as guardian of the person, you have the right to physical possession of the ward.  This means that you have the right to establish the ward’s domicile.  With these rights also come the duties of caring for and protecting the ward and providing the ward with food, clothing, shelter and healthcare.  The guardian also has the power to consent to medical treatment,  surgical treatment, and out-patient psychiatric treatment.

The Collin County Probate Courts have provided the following guides for Guardians serving in their Courts:

Guide for Guardian of the Person

Guide for Guardian of the Estate

Guide for Guardian of the Person and Estate

The Dallas County Probate Courts have provided the following guides for Guardians serving in their Courts:

Guide for Guardian of the Person

Guide for Guardian of the Estate

The Ellis County Courts have provided the following guides for Guardians serving in their Courts:

Guide for Guardian of the Person

Guide for Guardian of the Estate

The Tarrant County Probate Courts have provided the following guides for Guardians serving in their Courts:

Guide for Guardian of the Person

Guide for Guardian of the Estate

Provide Shelter

The guardian must make appropriate living arrangements for the ward.  To the extent possible, a guardian should discuss any proposed living arrangements with the ward.  The guardian may place the ward in a skilled healthcare facility.  This option, however, should only be upon the suggestion of the ward's doctor.  If such a facility is required, the guardian should place the ward in a facility that is appropriate for the ward's needs.  If the ward is placed in a healthcare facility, the guardian is not relieved from the responsibility of caring for the ward. The guardian must continue to supervise the ward's living conditions and must stay in contact with both the ward and the ward's healthcare providers.

File Annual Reports

In order to keep the Probate Court appraised of the status of the ward, the guardian must submit an Annual Report on the status and welfare of the ward to the Probate Court. This report is merely a check to ensure that a guardianship is still required and that the guardian is adequately performing his or her duties. This report is quite simple to complete.

Below please find Court-published Annual Reports.

Dallas County Probate Court Annual Report (All Three Courts)

Denton County Probate Court Annual Report

Designate a Successor Guardian of the Person

The guardian should inform the Court of his or her wishes in the event of the guardian's death or incapacity.  Upon receiving notice that a successor guardian is required, the Court will choose a successor guardian based upon the best interests of the ward and the requirements of the Texas Probate Code.  Therefore, the Court is not obliged to honor the guardian's wishes.  Nevertheless, the Court will give strong consideration to the preferences of the current guardian, particularly if the current guardian is a parent of the ward.

The Duran Firm has prepared a simple Declaration that can be used to inform the Court of the guardian's wishes.  Simply complete the form and file it with the Court having jurisdiction of the guardianship.  

Declaration of Appointment of Successor Guardian of the Person

Notify the Court of Any Change of Address

The guardian should inform the Court of any change of address in case the Court needs to get in touch with the Guardian.

The Duran Firm has prepared a simple Change of Address form that can be used to inform the Court of a change of address.  Simply complete the form and file it with the Court having jurisdiction of the guardianship.  

Change of Address

Seek out Governmental Services

The guardian should also seek out governmental services that are available for the ward's benefit.  For wards that live in Dallas County and are intellectually disabled, the first place to start is Dallas Metrocare Services.  Dallas Metrocare Services is a community mental health and mental retardation center serving the residents of Dallas County.  Its mission is to provide quality services, treatments and assistance to people who live with the challenges of an intellectual disability. 

Dallas Metrocare Services
Eligibility Determination Unit
1353 N. Westmoreland, Cottage 4
Dallas, Texas  75211
214.333.7000
214.333.7073 (Fax)
www.dallasmetrocare.com

A brief description of mental retardation services and supports provided by the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) through Dallas Metrocare Services can be downloaded below:

Description of mental retardation services and supports 
provided through Dallas Metrocare Services

Seek out Home and Community Services

Paso a Paso.  Paso a Paso's philosophy is to provide an array of quality services to people with mental retardation and related conditions to be able to function in the community versus an institution.  Paso a Paso believes that by assisting people in taking small steps towards independence, it will help overcome barriers and allow people the opportunity to integrate into society.  Paso a Paso believes that each person should be treated as an individual and that the involvement of the family is paramount to the success of each person. 

Paso a Paso

Paso a Paso
1720 Regal Row, Ste. 226
Dallas, Texas  75224
972.572.3455 main
972.709.2519 fax
877.260.0959 toll free
www.pasoapasoinc.com

The Duran Firm is not affiliated legally or financially with Paso a Paso.  The Duran Firm does not receive a referral fee from Paso a Paso, nor does Paso a Paso receive a referral fee from the Duran Firm.  We simply share the same goal: to provide certainty to families of special needs by delivering the highest level of service.

Engage in Financial Planning

Life Planning for Families of Special Needs. For many families, their biggest worry is the uncertainty of providing for their family members with special needs after the parents are gone.  Life Planning for Families of Special Needs is a firm that specializes in the field of life planning for both families and individuals with disabilities.  The mission of the firm is to provide any person with a disability, or their advocates or caregivers, with the most current information based upon their unique situation and to assist them in any way required to use that information in maximizing their opportunities, goals and objectives, all while protecting their government benefits. 

Life Planning

http://www.txlifeplanning.com/

Main Office
3939 Beltline Rd, Suite 310 
Addison, Texas  75001
972.964.3444
Tarrant County Location
2005 E. Lamar Blvd Ste 100 
Arlington, Texas  76006
972.964.3444

Parker County Location
5189 East I-20 
North Service Rd Ste 104 
Willow Park, Texas  76087
972.964.3444

 

The Duran Firm is not affiliated legally or financially with Life Planning for Families of Special Needs.  The Duran Firm does not receive a referral fee from Life Planning, nor does Life Planning receive a referral fee from the Duran Firm.  We simply share the same goal: to provide certainty to families of special needs by delivering the highest level of service.

Develop a Strategic Life Plan through a Person Centered Plan

D.R. Wilkes Consulting. Person Centered Planning is an action oriented process that focuses on the gifts and talents of an individual and develops a system of support to include that person in the community through work, volunteering, interdependent living, socialization and recreation.  D.R. Wilkes Consulting coordinates and facilitates a team comprising of the individual, family members, friends and service providers to create a comprehensive description of the person highlighting  the interests, likes and dislikes so that a strategic plan is developed and achievable and positive dreams can be realized.

Wilkes Consulting

http://www.drwilkesconsulting.com

Debbie Wilkes, Masters of Special Education

214.207.1038 

The Duran Firm is not affiliated legally or financially with D.R. Wilkes Consulting.  The Duran Firm does not receive a referral fee from D.R. Wilkes Consulting, nor D.R. Wilkes Consulting receive a referral fee from the Duran Firm.  We simply share the same goal: to provide certainty to families of special needs by delivering the highest level of service

Guardian of the Estate

Enormous responsibilities come with being a guardian of the estate.  This is because as guardian, you have a duty to manage the ward’s estate just as a prudent person would manage his or her own estate.  In effect, you have to treat the ward's property better than you would treat your own.  Accordingly, serving as guardian of the estate is far more complicated than serving as guardian of the person. 

As guardian of the estate, you must take possession and control of all property belonging to the ward.  You must also collect any debts that are due to the ward, as well as bring (or defend suits) for the benefit of the ward.  If the ward has any property, the guardian of the estate must insure the ward’s property.  Finally, the guardian must arrange for the payment of the ward’s taxes and pay any necessary bond premiums from the assets of the estate.

Example Guardian of the Estate Checklist

The remainder of this letter is comprised of a possible checklist of a guardian of the estate's required duties.  The estate of every ward is unique.  Therefore, the reader should remember that this checklist is just an example. 

Taken as a whole, the list may seem daunting.  However, if approached one step at a time, serving as a guardian of the estate is completely manageable.  Furthermore, once the checklist is completed, the care and management of the ward becomes almost routine. 

Please remember, that virtually all of the guardian's actions must be approved by the court prior to taking any action.  Therefore, please contact your probate attorney before spending any estate money or disposing of any estate property.

Immediately After Appointment

A Guardian of the Estate should gather and preserve all of the ward's assets as soon as possible.  The guardian should establish sole control over all of the ward’s assets in order to prevent theft or conversion by a third party.  Suggested actions include

  1. Verify insurance coverage for the ward’s assets.
  2. Changing locks.
  3. Notifying alarm companies.
  4. Redirecting the ward's mail to the guardian's home address or post office box.
  5. Thoroughly searching the ward’s home and safe deposit box to locate the ward's personal and financial documents.  Be sure to locate the ward’s tax return and checkbook.  If a third party is in control of such documents, the guardian should request that the original records be delivered to the guardian. 
  6. Contacting financial institutions that may be in control of the ward's assets.  These include banks, trust companies, brokerage firms, etc., of the guardian’s appointment and requesting that they secure the accounts until the guardian can arrange to collect the assets.
  7. Once the guardian has obtained control over the ward's assets, the guardian should establish an interest-bearing checking account with a reputable financial institution and consolidate the ward’s cash and similar assets.  The financial institution should be FDIC insured.  Securities should be deposited with a reputable bank or brokerage firm.  The new accounts should be styled to reflect that a guardianship is in place: "[Guardian's Name], Guardian of the Estate of [Ward's Name], an Incapacitated Person."

Within 30 Days of Appointment

  1. File an Inventory, Appraisement and List of Claims with the Probate Court.  The Inventory is list all of the property of the estate, as well as all claims that are due and owing to the estate.  Your probate attorney should help you with this.
  2. Publish a Notice to Creditors in the newspaper.  The Notice generally states that all persons having claims against the estate are required to present the claims within the time prescribed by law.  Your probate attorney should help you with this.
  3. Prepare a Budget listing the estimated costs of the ward’s education and support, including property maintenance.
  4. If not provided for in the Order Appointing Guardian, file an Application for Approval of Estimated Monthly Expenses and for Authority to Expend Funds.  This Application asks the Probate Court to authorize a monthly allowance based upon the Budget.  Your probate attorney should help you with this.

Within 120 Days of Appointment

Notify secured and unsecured creditors of the estate of the appointment of a guardian.  Secured creditors include creditors having a claim against the estate that is secured by a lien, deed of trust, or mortgage against property belonging to the ward.  Unsecured creditors include any person or business having a claim against the estate that is not secured by the ward’s property.  The notice to an unsecured creditor must expressly state that the unsecured creditor must present a claim within 120 days of receipt or the claim is barred.  Your probate attorney may help you with this.

Within 1 Year of Appointment

File an Annual Account with the Probate Court to report to the Court what happened to every penny of the Ward's assets over the past year.  This is a complex document and should be accomplished by a probate attorney familiar with the Court's requirements.

Guardianship is a very powerful tool that will help a guardian care for the ward.  Any person contemplating being named as guardian of the estate should seriously consider whether they are up to the task of completing the above-listed duties.  If so, The Duran Firm would be proud to assist you in taking care of your incapacitated loved one.