A person with a mental or physical disability may need the assistance of a guardian to help him make decisions about his finances, healthcare, living arrangements and other life issues. In such situations, a probate court judge listens to the evidence and appoints a temporary or permanent guardian if he determines that is necessary. A temporary guardianship expires after 60 days, but a permanent guardianship remains in effect until the court issues an order to terminate it. However, a guardian's authority to act may expire under certain circumstances.
Temporary or Permanent Guardianship
A person who suffers a severe head injury or sudden illness may need immediate but short-term assistance until he recovers. A mentally challenged or aging individual, on the other hand, may need long-term assistance through a permanent guardianship. A permanent guardianship lasts until the ward dies or improves enough to handle his own affairs again. If necessary, the court can convert a temporary guardianship into a long-term arrangement.
Guardian of the Person or Guardian of the Estate
The policy in Texas is to use the least restrictive method possible to help someone manage his affairs. The judge may appoint a guardian of the estate to assist with paying bills, managing property and making financial decisions. If the proposed ward needs help with living arrangements and healthcare decisions, the judge may appoint only a guardian of the person. Depending on the facts of the case, the judge may appoint a guardian of the estate to handle financial affairs. If the ward needs both, a single guardian may fulfill both roles or the court may appoint two separate guardians.
While a temporary guardianship automatically expires after 60 days, the court may extend it. In most cases, a permanent guardianship continues until the ward's death. However, a ward whose condition improves to the point where he can make his own decisions may petition the court to terminate the guardianship and restore his rights.
Expiration of Letters of Guardianship
Although a permanent guardianship does not expire, the appointed guardian's authority to act on the ward's behalf can. Court-issued letters of guardianship bearing an official seal are used to document the guardian's authority to banks, insurance companies, hospitals and other third parties. The letters automatically expire one year and four months from the date of issuance unless the court renews them. If the guardian fails to file an annual report with the court or becomes disqualified from serving, the judge will appoint another individual to serve as guardian.