woman holding hands with her elderly relative

Helping parents understand the differences between parent and guardian can be quite a touchy subject. No one, especially a mom, wants to be told how to do their job. Mothers know their children and typically do not want opinions on what is best. How could a Judge come in and dictate how to support and protect our kids?  

Over the years I have been asked to educate parents on understanding the responsibilities of being a guardian, which contrary to what people may believe, are two vastly different duties and responsibilities. Once guardianship is granted, there is a level of accountability to the Court in which the guardianship was appointed, and this means oversight and monitoring.  

What is Adult Guardianship? 

It can be difficult to explain to a well-intended mom, who sends pizza every Wednesday to her son’s group home and takes him on monthly outings, that these activities are not part of her guardianship duties. When I have explained to parents that the duties of a guardian have nothing to do with gifts or outings, it usually is received with surprise and confusion. I must quickly follow up on this newly discovered information with facts about guardianship and the court’s expectations.  

A guardianship is a legal relationship created and monitored by a court, where an adult’s rights are removed and appointed to another person. The person whose rights were removed is called a ward and the person to whom the rights were appointed is called the guardian. So, sending gifts and buying a new television for a group home are not duties the court would typically consider to be guardianship obligations.  

What is the Difference Between Parenting and Guardianship?

Distinguishing between mom and guardian can be hard, especially for a well-intended mother, but the court needs more, so what is more? Guardians are expected to ensure the ward’s needs are being met, specifically their food, clothing, shelter, medical, and educational needs. 

Duties of a Guardian

In the process of getting these needs met the guardian should reflect those activities in the documentation sent to the court, usually done through an annual report or quarterly report.  

Guardians should write down everything. I usually recommend new guardians create a system for record keeping. The way I have found to be the best is having a blank copy of the annual report and filling it out informally each month. It is extremely helpful to have eleven reports that have all the dates, events, and changes throughout the year. When the time comes to complete the annual report, a guardian can pull the eleven they have been keeping up with and transfer the information to the annual report. If you keep up with the document throughout the year, the annual report that is filed with the Court practically writes itself.  

It Can Be Hard to Be Both: a Mom and a Guardian

In most cases, a parent or a family member becoming the guardian makes sense, but separating the two roles can be challenging. Guardians are held to a high standard and given much authority by the Court. Ensuring the Court is abreast of the welfare of the ward is a priority, and ensuring these duties are conducted appropriately and completely takes a person from family member to guardian.  

Hammerle is Here to Help with Guardianship Services

If you need help with navigating adult guardianship, schedule a consultation with the experienced attorneys and staff at Hammerle Finley Law Firm.

Courtney Carey is a Texas Certified Guardian and a Care Manager, with experience in Texas Medicaid waiver programs for intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental health, and geriatrics. Contact Hammerle Finley Law Firm to schedule a consultation: www.hammerle.com 

The foregoing does not constitute legal advice.