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What Is the Difference Between Limited and Plenary Guardianship?

 Posted on January 18, 2024 in Guardianship

Blog ImageThere are some situations where a person may require someone to assist with various areas of their life and make decisions on their behalf. This can occur in cases involving elders or adults with disabilities who may not be able to properly care for themselves, address concerns related to their finances, or manage other aspects of their lives. In these cases, a guardian may be appointed by the court.

Guardianship is a legal relationship where a person (the guardian) is given the responsibility and authority to make personal and financial decisions for another person (the ward). There are two main types of guardianships: limited guardianship and plenary guardianship. An attorney with experience in issues related to elder law can provide guidance to elders and guardians in these situations, helping them understand their options and ensuring that there is a legal framework in place to meet a person’s needs.

Limited Guardianship

A limited guardianship may be established when a person has some capacity to care for themselves and address some of their own needs, but they require assistance in making certain decisions. This type of guardianship focuses on specific areas where the person needs help rather than granting complete control over all aspects of their life.

The limitations placed on a guardian's authority can vary based on the circumstances and needs of the ward. For example, a limited guardian might be granted decision-making power over certain medical treatment choices while leaving other areas, such as finances or housing, under the ward's control.

In Texas, limited guardianships are typically favored when it is evident that elders have the ability to meet some of their own needs but need assistance in managing specific aspects of their lives. The goal is to encourage self-reliance and autonomy as much as possible while ensuring that necessary support systems are in place.

Plenary Guardianship

A plenary guardianship, also known as full or general guardianship, grants complete decision-making power to the guardian over all aspects of the ward's life—both personal matters and financial affairs. This type of guardianship may be used when an elder or a disabled adult lacks sufficient capacity to make any significant decisions independently.

To establish a plenary guardianship in Texas, the prospective guardian must provide clear and convincing evidence that the ward is incapacitated and unable to manage their own affairs. This evidence usually includes medical or psychological evaluations, testimonies from professionals who have evaluated the person's abilities, and other relevant documentation.

Plenary guardianships are typically necessary when a person's incapacity is severe enough to impact every aspect of their life. It allows the appointed guardian to make decisions regarding healthcare choices, living arrangements, financial matters, legal issues, and any other areas where the ward requires assistance.

Texas Law Regarding Guardianship

In Texas, guardianship laws are governed by Title 3 of the Estates Code. The primary purpose of guardianship is to protect the well-being of people who have physical or mental limitations while also respecting their rights to self-determination as much as possible.

Courts play a crucial role in establishing guardianships. When someone petitions for guardianship over a person—whether limited or plenary—the court will determine if guardianship is required based on clear and convincing evidence presented during a hearing. The court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the interests of the proposed ward throughout this process.

Texas law emphasizes less restrictive alternatives before resorting to full guardianships whenever appropriate. These alternatives may include limited guardianship, supported decision-making agreements, or the establishment of powers of attorney, which may allow elders to have more autonomy while still receiving necessary support.

Contact Our Bexar County Guardianship Attorney

The process of establishing limited or plenary guardianship in Texas can be complex, and it is essential to consult with an experienced attorney who has experience representing clients in matters related to elder law and estate planning. At The Law Office of Ryan C. Moe, PLLC, our San Antonio guardianship lawyer can explain your rights under Texas law and guide you through establishing guardianship or exploring other alternatives. Contact us at 210-861-6000 to schedule a consultation today.

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