Guardianship is the legal process by which a judge appoints someone to take legal responsibility for the protection and care of an incapacitated person and/or the management of property of an incapacitated person. The Texas Estates Code defines an incapacitated person as “an adult individual who, because of a physical or mental condition, is substantially unable to provide food, clothing, or shelter to himself or herself, to care for the individual’s own physical health, or to manage the individual’s own financial affairs.”
Powers of Attorney
Power of attorney is the authority to act for another person according to the specific instructions of the “power of attorney” legal document. The appointed “agent” has designated powers, which can include an authorization to manage real and personal property, gift money, employ professional services, and make business and financial decisions. A separate medical power of attorney is used to appoint an individual to make healthcare decisions. In Texas, a medical power of attorney is effective only upon a medical determination of incapacity whereas a general durable power of attorney can be effective immediately or upon incapacity, according to the wishes of the person making the appointment.
Supported Decision-Making Agreement
A supported-decision making agreement is a legal document whereby an individual with a disability appoints a “supporter” to help him or her make life decisions such as where and with whom the individual wants to live and/or the services, supports and medical care the individual wants to receive. Texas was the first state in the country to pass legislation recognizing supported decision-making agreements as an alternative to guardianship in appropriate cases.
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