What is Guardianship?

Some people may need a guardian if they are unable to make decisions, care for themselves, or manage personal or financial affairs due to a mental or physical disability.

Guardianship is a legal relationship where an individual (the guardian) is appointed by a court to make decisions and manage the personal and financial affairs of an incapacitated person (the ward). The guardian is typically responsible for ensuring the well-being and best interest of the person. In Texas, guardianship includes:

  • Hiring a lawyer
  • Filing an application with a court
  • Attending a hearing
  • Having a judge decide if a guardianship is necessary

Guardianship takes away a person’s rights. Before filing a guardianship application, other options are usually tried first, such as:

  • Securing money management services or related tools to help the person manage money
  • A supported decision-making agreement
  • A power of attorney to help the person make decisions, including health care decisions
  • Enrolling the person in available community services, including Medicaid programs

Once a guardian is appointed, it takes court action to change the guardianship.

To learn more about the guardianship process in Texas, read A Texas Guide to Adult Guardianship (PDF).

HHS Guardianship Services Program

The Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) has a Guardianship Services Program and becomes involved in guardianship in one of two ways:

  • The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) refers adults 65 years or older, adults with disabilities, or youth aging out of conservatorship to HHS who they believe need a guardian.
  • In certain limited circumstances, the court directly requests HHS to be a guardian.
  • HHS is appointed guardian of individuals who have been impacted by abuse, neglect (including self-neglect), and/or exploitation.

When someone is referred to the Guardianship Services Program, HHS:

  • Determines if the person meets the Texas Estates Code definition of an incapacitated person and eligibility requirements of the Texas Administrative Code.
  • Identifies less restrictive alternatives to guardianship.
  • Identifies other people or organizations that are willing, able, and appropriate to serve as guardian.
  • Applies with the court to be appointed guardian when all alternatives have been exhausted and the person meets HHS criteria.

To request information or assistance please email the Guardianship Services Program.