Penelope is single, childless, 70 years old and in good health. She knows that Texas Estates Code allows an individual to name who they would like to serve as one’s guardians, both of the person and of the estate. She is wise in determining she should complete the forms to name someone as guardian in the event she can no longer take care of herself. She understands that her guardians will be supervised by the court, but she also realizes how important it is that the persons she chooses be competent and trustworthy. What specifically should Penelope consider when choosing these guardians?

Penelope can name the same or different persons to handle the two guardianships. She should assess whether the person(s) she names have the specific capabilities necessary. She should consult with the person(s) to determine their willingness to take on the responsibilities of guardianship.   

The guardian of the person has the duty to care, control and protect the ward. This guardian sees that the ward is provided with clothing, food, medical care, and shelter. This guardian is not required to utilize the guardian’s own assets, although they may do so in certain instances. Penelope has her own assets and would provide the funds.

The guardian of the person has the power to determine where the ward resides and to consent to medical, surgical, even psychiatric care for the ward. However, the guardian may not commit the ward to inpatient psychiatric care without a separate court order.

The guardian of the person has the duty to keep the court informed if the residence or the contact information of either the ward or the guardian changes during the guardianship period.

The guardianship letters expire one year and four months after they are issued and must be renewed by the court at that time.

The guardian of the estate has the duty to take possession of the assets of the estate. In managing these assets, the guardian of the estate must exercise good judgment, good faith and diligence. The guardian of the estate must avoid co-mingling the ward’s assets with the guardian’s assets. All expenses paid out by this guardian must be approved by the court.

The guardian of the estate is required to make an annual accounting due each year within 60 days after each anniversary of issuance of guardianship letters. This annual accounting must be approved before the guardianship of the estate is renewed.

Next week’s column will discuss what could disqualify a person Penelope names.

Sandra W. Reed is an attorney with Katten & Benson, an Elder Law firm in Fort Worth. She lives in beautiful Somervell County, near Chalk Mountain.