Families with mentally disabled loved ones often struggle with deciding how to best care for them. On one hand, families desire to allow as much autonomy and independence as possible. On the other hand, protecting the individual and making sure the individual makes responsible decisions is also a priority. Balancing these competing interests can be agonizing. When the time comes that the individual needs a family member to step in and gain legal authority to manage the details of daily living, guardianship is the legal mechanism to accomplish those goals. In such a case, the family member given legal authority is called a "Guardian" and the disabled individual is called a "Ward". In evaluating a possible guardianship, one of the first questions is what rights the Ward will retain, and what rights the Guardian will assume. Today's blog will highlight some of the important rights of the Ward in a guardianship matter.
In a guardianship, the Ward retains all of the rights not specifically given to the Guardian. The Court seeks to only remove those rights that the Ward cannot properly exercise independently, and can only remove those rights after considering available alternatives to guardianship and other supports and services that could avoid the need for guardianship. Even when certain rights are removed, the Ward has all the rights, benefits, responsibilities and privileges granted by the Constitution and laws of the United States and Texas. Texas law contains a specific listing of rights and authority that the Ward retains unless specifically limited by the guardianship order. Today's blog will identify some of the most important of these rights.
First, the Ward has the right to have a copy of the pertinent documents from the Court.
Second, the Ward has the right to a Court-ordered guardianship that encourages the development or maintenance of maximum self-reliance and independence, with th goal of regaining independence if possible.
Third, the Ward has the right to be treated with respect and dignity.
Fourth, the Ward has the right to receive support and services in the most integrated setting, including home-based services if available.
Fifth, the Ward has the right to consideration by the Guardian and the Court of the Ward's personal preferences, desires, medical and psychiatric treatment choices, religious beliefs, living arrangements, etc.
Sixth, the Ward has the right to financial self-determination for all public benefits after essential living expenses are met, and to have access to a monthly personal allowance.
Seventh, the Ward has the right to receive timely medical treatment.
Eighth, the Ward has the right to exercise full control over daily living that are not expressly removed by the Court order.
Ninth, the Ward has the right to control his/her own personal environment
Tenth, the Ward has the right to raise concerns and voice complaints to the Court regarding the Guardian and the terms of the guardianship.
Eleventh, the Ward has the right to receive notice of all court proceedings involving the guardianship, and to appear in Court to express any concerns and preferences about whether the guardianship shoud be terminated, continued or modified based on the circumstances.
Twelfth, the Ward has the right to have a court investigator, guardian ad litem or attorney ad litem appointed by the Court to investigate any complaints received by the Court.
Next week's blog will continue the discussion of the numerous rights of a Ward in a guardianship proceeding, and summarize the additional rights of a Ward that are specified by Texas law. If your family is considering a guardianship for a loved one, you don't have to go through the decision-making process alone. Christiansen Law Firm has extensive experience handling guardianship matters, and can offer sound guidance about your legal options. Contact the guardianship attorneys of Christiansen Law Firm in Houston or San Antonio to arrange a consultation to discuss your guardianship matter.