In the state of Texas, many families have lost a loved one and then suffered a double loss when the probate court system essentially took over authority in deciding how to distribute the loved one's assets and estate after his or her death. Many families do not have information about the responsibilities and risks of guardianship cases prior to losing a loved one.
If you are caring for an elderly or incapacitated parent, guardianship is something you should inform yourself about. It becomes particularly important as your parent nears the end of his or her life so you can avoid the risk of the court system stepping in and making decisions that are out of your hands.
What are guardianship and probate?
The first thing to understand is that if your elderly or incapacitated parent passes away without specifying how he or she wishes to have his or her estate and assets distributed, a Texas probate court may determine how to distribute the assets. Another situation involves a parent passing away who has an adult child with disabilities who is unable to care for him or herself. In that case, the court may decide to appoint a guardian and attorney to advocate for his or her interests in the absence of the deceased parent. Even if the court advocates to distribute assets to a family member, the probate court process can be extremely costly and seriously deplete resources that should rightfully go to an heir or heirs. This is especially frequent when the deceased had no will or estate planning in place prior to death.
It can be traumatic to have to battle in court for inheritance and assets you feel rightfully belong to family members and to see those assets lost to a complicated network of court-appointed lawyers and proceedings. The bottom line is that if you find yourself having to deal with estate matters after your parent's death, you should have an attorney you can trust who can guide you through the process.
Guardianship cases for peace of mind
If you have a loved one who is no longer able to make decisions for himself or herself, such as an incapacitated or disabled parent, guardianship can bring peace of mind. This is actually one of the most common guardianship situations.
The court must appoint a guardian, and this being the case, you should consult with an attorney to understand the process. Once you get the right team of professionals on your side, you can make the decisions that work best for you and your loved one.