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Rights and Responsibilities of Guardians of Minor Children: Person vs. Estates

As guardian of the person, you will generally have the responsibilities as follows:

  • You decide where the child lives. If you move, you must tell the court in writing right away. If you want to move out of Texas or even move to a different County, you have to get the court’s permission. Majority of Courts will transfer the Guardianship; however, most Court’s will only transfer if there is a statutory probate court within that county.
  • You decide where the child goes to school. You must stay involved in the child’s education, and help the child get any special services, like tutoring, that he or she needs.
  • You must take care of the child’s medical and dental needs, making sure he or she gets proper care. In most cases, you can also make decisions about any medical treatment the child needs.
  • You must get the child counseling or other mental health services if the child needs them. Please note that you cannot place the child in a mental health institution without a court order unless the child agrees.
  • At least once a year, you will turn in a status report to the court. You must also meet with any court investigators or social workers sent by the court and come to court when the court tells you to. The court can also order you to take on other duties or can place special conditions on you as guardian, if needed.
  • In most cases, guardians, like parents, are responsible for harm or damages the child causes, including graffiti or getting in a car accident. Like a parent, a guardian is responsible for the intentional acts of the minor, and also for negligent supervision of the minor or the negligent entrustment of a motor vehicle (giving the child access to a car when he or she is unlicensed or otherwise not capable of handling the responsibility).
  • You cannot let the child live with his or her parents or anyone else. The child must live with you unless the Judge says otherwise. You can let the child stay with other people for visits or short periods of time without a court order, as long as the child continues to primarily live with you, the guardian.
  • The parents may be able to visit and see their child, but you (or the court) decide when and how often. The parents may get custody of their child back in the future if the court decides that the child no longer needs to have a guardian.

You will have the right to make these decisions affecting the child:

  • You may give the child permission to apply for a driver’s license or you may choose to not give him or her permission. However, if you let the child apply for a license, you must also get car insurance for the child. Please note, that if the child has an accident while driving your car, you may be responsible for any damages caused by the accident.
  • You may give the child permission to enlist in the military. However, if the child enters into active duty with the armed forces, the guardianship will end in the State of Texas.
  • Both you and the court must give permission for the child to get married; however, if the child gets married, the guardianship will end in the State of Texas.

Now that you have an understanding what Guardian of a person is, we will discuss the roles of a Guardian of Estate for a minor child. As a Guardian of the estate of the minor, you owe the highest duty the law recognizes to protect the assets of the child’s estate. This duty is called a fiduciary duty. It is easy to violate this duty if you do not have special training or a probate lawyer giving you advice. For this reason, it is better to have a lawyer, like a guardianship lawyer Arlington TX trusts, represent you when you are asking the court to appoint you guardian of the estate. The lawyer’s fees are paid for by the estate in most cases or they can request for compensation for any out-of-pocket expenses, and must be approved by the court so there is protection for the minor. Majority of Courts require that you attend a training course prior to becoming a Guardian of Person or Estate.

Within 90 days after being appointed guardian, you must file financial reports with the court, including an inventory and appraisal signed and verified by a notary showing the value of the assets in the estate. You must collect and make a list of all the child’s property and find, gather and protect all money and property that are part of the estate; then put all property in the estate’s name; and record copies of the Letters of Guardianship with the County Recorder in every county where the child owns real property such as land, houses or buildings.

In order to determine the value of the child’s property, an Ad Litem will have figured out how much the property was worth prior to you being appointed and will disclose the estate value in their Report that was submitted to the judge for approval. More than likely, this is how the Court’s determined the amount of your surety bond that you will have to post prior to officially becoming the Guardian.

Once appointed the Guardian of Estate you are now held liable for managing the child’s estate. You are able to achieve this by keeping all the child’s money and property separate from everyone else’s money and property, including your own. Unless there is a court order, a guardian cannot pay him or herself or his or her lawyer with the estate’s funds; give away any part of the estate; borrow money from the estate; or spend the estate’s money. If the child has a parent who is still alive, or the child gets money or can get support from elsewhere, then you need the court’s permission to use the estate money to pay for the child’s support, maintenance, or education. You can file a petition explaining why you need to use the estate’s money to support the child. Generally, the court can give you permission to use the minor’s money for less than a year and for specific things. Keep complete and accurate financial records, including records of every transaction that has to do with the estate. Write down all of the money that comes in and all money that goes out, and keep receipts for everything you buy using estate money. You must maintain and keep insurance coverage on the child’s property. You will be required to prepare a report, called an accounting of all money collected and all interest earned; all money you spent and for what; the date of every transaction; the purpose of every transaction; and what is left after the estate’s expenses are paid. An annual accounting is required and must be approved by the Courts. Failure to comply with these terms and conditions could result in a fine or being removed as the Guardian of Person, Estate or both. Majority of Courts do not require you to obtain an Attorney for Guardian of Person; however due to the complexities of Guardian of Estate, you must retain an Attorney.

 

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Brandy Austin Law Firm PLLC for their insight into rights and responsibilities of guardians of minor children.

 



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