Friday, September 23, 2011

Texas Guardianships: The Cast of Characters

If someone files documents with the court asking to be made guardian, that person is the Applicant. The Applicant will be represented by an attorney during the legal proceedings at the courthouse.

After an application for guardianship is filed, the judge must appoint an attorney for the proposed Ward. This attorney is called an Attorney Ad Litem. The Attorney Ad Litem represents the wishes of the proposed Ward during the guardianship proceedings. The Attorney Ad Litem and the proposed Ward work together.

If the guardianship is uncontested, a hearing will be set, the court will hear the evidence, and the judge will appoint a qualified guardian.

If the guardianship is contested, the proceeding becomes more complex and time consuming. In contested situations, the question may not be whether the proposed Ward needs a guardian but who may serve? There may be more than one person applying. If so, each applicant has an attorney.

In these situations, the judge may appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to sort through the information and make a recommendation to the court. The job of the Guardian Ad Litem is to be a neutral fact-finder, investigating the situation and determining what would be in the proposed Ward's best interest. At court, the judge will listen to all sides. The judge will consider the Guardian Ad Litem's recommendation, weigh the preferences of the proposed Ward, and review the doctor's medical report before deciding whether a guardianship is appropriate. If so, the judge will appoint a guardian for the Ward.


Texas Guardianships: What are They?

Guardianship Basics
At times, a person may not be able to care for his or her own personal or financial needs. Texas law provides a remedy, guardianship, so that a person's affairs may be supervised by the court.

This is a legal action of last resort, which may be necessary for various reasons. It may be used when estate planning fails, when there is no estate planning documents at all, or it may be appropriate when others will not accept the power of legal documents.

A guardian is appointed by the court and legally stands in the shoes of the person under disability, the Ward.

After appointment, the guardian has the same rights and responsibilities as the ward. The guardian is not personally responsible but only serves as the Ward's agent.

Limited or General?
A guardianship may be general or limited, depending upon the severity of the disability. The court may only award the necessary powers to the guardian. No more, no less.

Person or Estate?
A guardianship may be of the person. This means that the guardian manages the Ward's personal affairs, such as medical or placement decisions. A guardianship may be of the estate, which means that the guardian manages the Ward's financial affairs. Many times, a guardianship is for person and estate, simultaneously.

Temporary or Permanent Guardianship?
A temporary guardianship may be sought when there is a threat of immediate harm to the Ward or the Ward's estate. A temporary guardianship is a response to an emergency. The temporary guardian will only be granted the necessary protective powers. Temporary guardianships must be reviewed later.

A permanent guardianship is granted to protect a Ward or his/her estate on a more lasting basis. A permanent guardianship is based on a doctor's medical evaluation of the Ward. There is a full hearing before a judge. If the judge orders a permanent guardianship, it is intended to last for the life of the ward, if statutory mandates are fulfilled by the guardian.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pat Summit Diagnosed with Early-Onset Dementia, Plans to Continue Coaching Basketball

Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt has no plans to stop coaching despite being diagnosed with early onset dementia, according to her video on YouTube and Sports Illustrated:

Speaking from her home in Blount County, Tenn., with her dog Sadie sleeping on her lap, Summitt said she would not stop coaching. "I plan to continue to be your coach," Summit said. "For that reason I will be relying on my outstanding coaching staff like never before. We have always collaborated on every facet of Lady Vol Basketball; and now you will see [assistants] Holly Warlick, Mickie DeMoss and Dean Lockwood taking on more responsibility as their duties will change significantly. I love being your coach and the privilege to go to work every day with our outstanding Lady Vol student athletes."

The UT athletic department confirmed to that Summitt told her players about her early onset dementia in a team meeting on Tuesday. " Obviously, I realize I may have some limitations with this condition since there will be some good days and some bad days," Summitt said in letter posted on the university's website.

Summitt told The News Sentinel that she often felt low at times last season and second guessed some of her decisions. "There were some mornings I would wake up and think I don't even want to go in," Summitt said. "That didn't last long but it was like 'What's wrong with me? What's going on with me?' She told The Washington Post that "sometimes I draw blanks."

Her son, Tyler, a junior at Tennessee and a walk-on on the men's basketball team, told The News Sentinel, "Nobody accepts this. And there was anger. 'Why me?' was a question she asked more than once. But then, once she came to terms with it, she treated it like every other challenge she ever had, and is going to do everything she possibly can to keep her mind right and stay the coach."

Summitt said that she didn't consider retirement. She told The News Sentinel that she was encouraged after speaking with Dr. Ronald Petersen, the director of the Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. "He's the one who told me you can coach as long as you want to coach and no one else had said anything like that to me,'' Summitt told the newspaper. "I haven't talked to him [lately] and I even thought about calling him sometime soon and telling him where I am with this. He was so positive [saying] 'You can work through this.'"

The paper reported that Summitt has formulated a plan that involves mental activities, such as reading and doing puzzles at night before going to sleep. Summitt told The News Sentinel that her maternal grandmother had suffered from severe dementia.

One of the icons of women's basketball, Summitt has led UT to eight national championships and 1,071 career victories, the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history, regardless of gender. This will be her 38th season coaching at the university. Summitt said she does not plan on speaking about her condition in the immediate days ahead.

"I've been honest and shared my health concerns with you and now we'll move forward to the business at hand -- coaching a great group of Lady Vols," she said. "For the time being, I hope you will respect my privacy regarding this matter."

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