This article was originally published by UNT Dallas College of Law on January 1, 2020.
The process to apply for permanent guardianship in Dallas County can often be a complicated process. The process for applying in Dallas County is as follows:
1. The applicant files an application for appointment of permanent guardianship with the certificate of medical examination (“CME”) as a separate document. The CME contains sensitive details about the proposed ward and is not available on the public court records website.1
2. A file-stamped copy of the application must be personally served on the proposed ward and served by certified mail on certain other family members. If applicable, the administrator of the facility where the ward resides must also be served by certified mail.2 Further, the applicant must file a certificate confirming that all interested parties were properly noticed.3
3. The applicant must post a $400 deposit with the Clerk for the attorney ad litem’s fee, unless an affidavit of inability to pay costs is on file.
4. The proposed guardian(s) (usually the applicant(s)) must register with the Texas Judicial Branch Certification Commission (“JBCC”) to undergo a criminal background check and complete an online training module.4
- The JBCC forwards the background check results to the court in which the guardianship application is pending. The results must be on file at least 10 days before the hearing on the application can take place.
- The proposed guardian must also file the certificate of completion of the training module with the court.
5. The court appoints a Court Investigator who meets with the proposed ward and applicant, then prepares and files a report.5 The Court Investigator acts as the eyes and ears of the court.
6. The court appoints an attorney ad litem to represent the proposed ward’s legal interests.
7. The attorney ad litem investigates, interviews the proposed ward, and files an answer on behalf of the proposed ward.6
8. If appropriate, the attorney ad litem may make a Motion for Appointment of a Guardian Ad Litem to speak to the proposed ward’s best interests, which may not coincide with the proposed ward’s legal interests.7
9. The court holds a hearing on the guardianship application.
10. If the application is granted, the Judge signs an order appointing the guardian.8
11. Upon appointment, the guardian takes an oath and posts a bond. Bonds for guardians of the person are typically $100-$500, depending on the Court. Bonds for guardians of the estate must be corporate surety bonds with the amount based on the estate size.9
Upon qualification, the guardian may then receive Letters of Guardianship (i.e., their “badge”) to show that they have authority to act on the ward’s behalf.10
For a general overview of guardianship, please visit: https://www.fghwlaw.com/overview-of-guardianship/.
Ellen Williamson is of counsel at Farrow-Gillespie Heath Witter LLP. She has more than fifteen years of experience as an attorney, and practices probate, estate planning, and guardianship law. She was selected as one of “DVAP’s Finest” for her pro bono volunteer efforts through the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program; she is a member of the Dallas Bar Association Probate, Trusts, & Estates section; a member of the estates manual committee; and a former co-chair of DAYL Elder Law Committee. Ms. Williamson assists with the creation and delivery of many continuing legal education programs for attorneys and enjoys speaking about estate planning and probate topics for senior groups and others. She earned her J.D. from SMU Dedman School of Law.
1 Tex. Est. Code Ann. § 1101.001; Tex. Est. Code Ann. § 1101.103.
2 Tex. Est. Code Ann. § 1051.101-203.
3 Tex. Est. Code Ann. § 1051.104(b)
4 Tex. Govt. Code § 155.151; Tex. Est. Code Ann. § 1104.404; Tex. Est. Code Ann. § 1104.003
5 Tex. Est. Code Ann. § 1054.151-153.
6 Tex. Est. Code Ann. § 1054.004.
7 Tex. Est. Code Ann. § 1054.151; Tex. Est. Code Ann. § 1054.154.
8 Tex. Est. Code Ann. § 1151.151-152.
9 Tex. Est. Code Ann. § 1105.001-002.
10 Tex. Est. Code Ann. § 1106.001.