The 84th Legislature passed four bills protecting the rights of persons with disabilities in the guardianship system. For the first time, the Texas legislature mandated that probate courts consider alternatives to guardianships and supports and services before a guardianship is created. Texas became the first state in the nation to place supported decision-making into statute as an alternative to guardianship.
- HB 39 – Alternatives to Guardianship
Relating to guardianships for incapacitated persons and to substitutes for guardianships for certain adults with disabilities. House Bill 39 amends Estates Code provisions relating to guardianships for incapacitated persons and to substitutes for guardianships for certain disabled adults. Among other provisions, the bill requires the exploration of alternatives to guardianship that would avoid the need for the appointment of a guardian and provides for the review of a ward’s capacity to determine the ability of the ward to make certain decisions and the need to continue guardianship.
House Bill 39 enacts the Supported Decision-Making Agreement Act to authorize an adult with a disability to voluntarily enter into a supported decision-making agreement with a supporter as a less restrictive substitute for adults who are not considered incapacitated persons for purposes of establishing a guardianship.
- SB 1881 – Supported Decision-Making
Senate Bill 1881 amends the Estates Code to establish the Supported Decision-Making Agreement Act under which an adult with a disability may voluntarily, without undue influence or coercion, enter into a supported decision-making agreement with a supporter. The bill, among other provisions, specifies the type of assistance a supporter is authorized to give under the agreement and the conditions under which a supporter is authorized to access certain personal information of an adult with a disability. The bill provides for the reporting of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an adult with a disability who has entered into an agreement.
- SB 1882 – Bill of Rights of Wards
Senate Bill 1882 amends the Estates Code to set out the bill of rights for wards under guardianship. The bill establishes that a ward has all the rights, benefits, responsibilities, and privileges granted by the constitution and laws of Texas and the United States, except where specifically limited by a court-ordered guardianship or where otherwise lawfully restricted.
- HB 1438 (Section 10) – Court-Initiated Guardianships
House Bill 1438 amends the Estates Code, Finance Code, and Government Code to update statutes relating to probate matters, including guardianship and other matters related to incapacitated persons. Among other things, the bill revises the requirements for setting a guardian’s bond, allows for the payment of fees and costs from any management trust for the person under guardianship, facilitates the ability of a person without a guardian of estate to sell property, and expands the proposed guardians for whom the procurement of criminal history record information is required to include a family member.