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How to Get Emergency Guardianship of an Elderly Parent in Texas

Updated: May 18


how-to-get-emergency-guardianship-of-a-parent
How to Get Emergency Guardianship of A Parent

When a parent starts experiencing rapid health decline or shows signs of self-neglect due to dementia or other cognitive issues, it often falls on adult children to quickly step in.


Seeking emergency guardianship through the courts is one way to legally gain decision-making ability when your parent’s safety and well-being hang in the balance.


Emergency guardianship is a complex legal process with strict requirements. While hoping a parent regains the capacity to care for themselves is ideal, the reality is that progressive conditions often necessitate putting a caregiver legally in charge.


Our Texas law firm has extensive experience guiding families through emergency and permanent guardianship cases. We can help you understand the steps, file the paperwork, and ensure the best outcome for your loved one.


Recognizing When to Seek Emergency Guardianship


As difficult as it is to consider legally stripping a parent of their rights, certain situations make emergency guardianship unavoidably necessary:

  1. Alzheimer’s or dementia – a drastic increase in memory loss, confusion, or poor judgment indicates a parent is unable to make sound health and financial choices or safely care for him or herself.

  2. Unsafe living conditions or self-neglect – hoarding, lack of utilities, an unsanitary home, or improper eating all demonstrate the need for intervention.

  3. Negligent financial transactions – suspicious bank withdrawal activity, unpaid bills, and threats of service cut-off suggest a parent can no longer manage finances responsibly.

  4. Sudden health events cause a disability – stroke, fall, or heart attack leading to either temporary or permanent incapacity requiring legal decision-making.


Alternatives to guardianship, like power of attorney, may provide the ability to make decisions that are needed. In the absence of alternatives and if there is an immediate danger to the parent or their estate, a court petition for emergency guardianship may be necessary to protect a parent or their estate.


Understanding the Emergency Guardianship Process in Texas


Texas Estate Code allows temporary emergency guardianship of up to 60 days, or you may file for permanent control immediately. The process may involve multiple agencies, healthcare providers, and legal approvals:

  1. The Texas Adult Protective Services may be investigating elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation allegations if a report is made.

  2. Temporary guardian shall be appointed with limited powers if substantial evidence is presented that the person may be incapacitated and there is probable cause to believe that the person or their estate requires the immediate appointment of a guardian to protect the proposed ward against imminent danger.

  3. If there are no actions that can be taken to protect the parent and the parent is in imminent danger of harm to their person or estate, then a temporary guardian may be appointed.

  4. The guardian will be authorized to make the decisions necessary to protect the parent from harm in the immediate future. The temporary guardian may be authorized to make health care decisions, decide residence, or make financial decisions depending on what is necessary to protect the parent.

  5. After 60 days, the court can extend the temporary guardianship if circumstances warrant it, or an individual who has completed the permanent guardianship application process may be appointed permanent guardianship.


The court will always favor the least restrictive alternatives to guardianship and only authorize the guardian to make those decisions that the parent is without the capacity to make for themselves. Our attorneys can help craft a guardianship strategy for your parent’s needs.


Qualifying for Emergency Appointment of a Guardian


To qualify for emergency guardianship, you have to prove there is an imminent threat of danger to their person or estate.


Specifically, Texas law requires:

  1. Showing risk factors that jeopardize the parent’s health and welfare without quick intervention, like self-harm, lack of food or water, or living conditions that endanger safety.

  2. Showing that no other alternatives are viable, such as medical power of attorney to arrange their care until the guardianship hearing.


How to Get Emergency Guardianship of a Parent


If believing emergency guardianship may be necessary to protect your parent, the process involves the following:

  1. Choosing guardianship needed – temporary(60-day) or permanent.

  2. Filing emergency application -outlining the circumstances that are causing immediate danger to the person or property and what authority is necessary to protect the person

  3. An Attorney Ad Litem is appointed to represent the potential ward. Attending court hearing – judge decides whether to appoint an emergency temporary guardian.

  4. Officially granting guardianship – you gain limited authority to make decisions necessary to protect the ward


We guide families through assembling the necessary medical and background paperwork and represent your case in court.


Ensuring Your Parent Gets Proper Care Under Guardianship


Gaining permanent guardianship is just the first step to getting a parent suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other incapacity the support they need.

A permanent guardian’s responsibilities include:

  1. Monthly visits to determine that the Ward is taken care of.

  2. If the court has an assigned court investigator, they will visit annually to make sure the Ward’s needs are being met.

  3. Annual Reports/Accounts: The guardians are required to file annual reports on the condition and well-being of the Ward and also file annual accountings for the Ward’s estate.

  4. Utilizing community resources – Texas Guardianship Services provides experienced, accountable guardians when no family can serve.

  5. Prioritizing least restrictive care – consider assisted living instead of nursing homes or allow financial oversight versus complete control.

  6. Respecting the rights of the incapacitated person – make the best choices for medical care, living situation, and social engagement.


While temporary guardians are able to protect their loved ones in the short term, permanent guardians have an opportunity to improve lives during incapacitation.


This role comes with complex responsibilities but also the immense capacity to uphold dignity and personhood. With compassion and pragmatism guiding the way, guardians enable supportive solutions so that life continues on one’s own, fulfilling terms for as long as possible.


Our Texas Guardianship Lawyers Can Help


Emergency guardianship is necessary to protect loved ones in immediate danger, but permanent guardianship allows for long-term management of a parent’s affairs and aligns them with progressive health condition changes. Our guardianship lawyers at Your Legacy Legal Care™ can help you decide whether to file for temporary guardianship or make it permanent.


We counsel guardianship needs, focusing on your loved one’s comfort, dignity, and best interests.


If you need to pursue emergency guardianship of a parent in Texas, trust our dedicated attorneys to guide your family compassionately through this complex process. Reach out today to schedule a consultation.

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