G.R.A.D.E


Relating to guardianships for incapacitated persons and to substitutes for guardianships for certain adults with disabilities.
           
             SECTION 1.  Section 1001.001(b), Estates Code, is amended to

            read as follows:

                   (b)  In creating a guardianship that gives a guardian limited             authority over an incapacitated person, the court shall design the guardianship to encourage the development or maintenance of maximum self-reliance and independence in the incapacitated person,
including allowing the incapacitated person to make personal decisions regarding the person's residence.

                   SECTION 2.  Chapter 1002, Estates Code, is amended by adding

            Sections 1002.0015 and 1002.031 to read as follows:

                   Sec. 1002.0015.  ALTERNATIVES TO GUARDIANSHIP.

            "Alternatives to guardianship" includes the:

                         (1)  execution of a medical power of attorney under

            Chapter 166, Health and Safety Code;

                         (2)  appointment of an attorney in fact or agent under a durable power of attorney as provided by Subtitle P, Title 2;

                         (3)  execution of a declaration for mental health treatment under Chapter 137, Civil Practices and Remedies Code;

                         (4)  appointment of a representative payee to manage public benefits;

                         (5)  establishment of a joint bank account;

                         (6)  creation of a management trust under Chapter 1301;

                         (7)  creation of a special needs trust;

                         (8)  designation of a guardian before the need arises

            under Subchapter E, Chapter 1104; and

                         (9)  establishment of alternate forms of decision-making based on person-centered planning.

                   Sec. 1002.031.  SUPPORTS AND SERVICES. "Supports and services" means available formal and informal resources and  assistance that enable an individual to:

                         (1)  meet the individual's needs for food, clothing, or shelter;

                         (2)  care for the individual's physical or mental health;

                         (3)  manage the individual's financial affairs; or

                         (4)  make personal decisions regarding residence, voting, operating a motor vehicle, and marriage.

                   SECTION 3.  Section 1002.015, Estates Code, is amended to

            read as follows:

                   Sec. 1002.015.  GUARDIANSHIP PROCEEDING.  The term "guardianship proceeding" means a matter or proceeding related to a guardianship or any other matter covered by this title, including:

                         (1)  the appointment of a guardian of a minor or other incapacitated person, including an incapacitated adult for whom another court obtained continuing, exclusive jurisdiction in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship when the person was a child;

                         (2)  an application, petition, or motion regarding guardianship or a substitute for [an alternative to] guardianship under this title;

                         (3)  a mental health action; and

                         (4)  an application, petition, or motion regarding a

            trust created under Chapter 1301.

                   SECTION 4.  Section 1054.004, Estates Code, is amended by

            amending Subsection (a) and adding Subsections (c) and (d) to read

            as follows:

                   (a)  An attorney ad litem appointed under Section 1054.001

            shall interview the proposed ward within a reasonable time before   the hearing in the proceeding for the appointment of a guardian.  To the greatest extent possible, the attorney shall discuss with the proposed ward:

                         (1)  the law and facts of the case;

                         (2)  the proposed ward's legal options regarding disposition of the case; [and]

                         (3)  the grounds on which guardianship is sought; and

                         (4)  whether alternatives to guardianship would meet the needs of the proposed ward and avoid the need for the appointment of a guardian.

                   (c)  Before the hearing, the attorney ad litem shall

            investigate whether:

                         (1)  a guardianship is necessary for the proposed ward;

            and

                         (2)  if the attorney ad litem determines that a guardianship is necessary, specific powers or duties of the guardian should be limited if the proposed ward receives supports and services.

                   (d)  If the attorney ad litem determines that a guardianship

            is necessary, the attorney must certify to the court that the guardianship is necessary and reasonable efforts have been made to explore alternatives to guardianship and supports and services available to the proposed ward that would avoid the need for the appointment of a guardian.

                   SECTION 5.  Section 1054.054, Estates Code, is amended by    adding Subsections (c) and (d) to read as follows:

                   (c)  The guardian ad litem shall:

                         (1)  investigate whether a guardianship is necessary for the proposed ward; and

                         (2)  evaluate alternatives to guardianship and supports and services available to the proposed ward that would avoid the need for appointment of a guardian.

                   (d)  The information gathered by the guardian ad litem under

            Subsection (c) is subject to examination by the court.

                   SECTION 6.  Sections 1054.201(a) and (b), Estates Code, are

            amended to read as follows:

                   (a)  An attorney for an applicant for guardianship and a

[A]      court-appointed attorney in a guardianship proceeding, including an attorney ad litem, must be certified by the State Bar of Texas, or a person or other entity designated by the state bar, as having successfully completed a course of study in guardianship law and procedure sponsored by the state bar or the state bar's designee.

                   (b)  The State Bar of Texas shall require four [three] hours of credit for certification under this subchapter, including one hour on alternatives to guardianship and supports and services available to proposed wards.

                   SECTION 7.  Section 1101.001(b), Estates Code, is amended to

            read as follows:

                   (b)  The application must be sworn to by the applicant and state:

                         (1)  the proposed ward's name, sex, date of birth, and address;

                         (2)  the name, relationship, and address of the person the applicant seeks to have appointed as guardian;

                         (3)  whether guardianship of the person or estate, or both, is sought;

                         (3-a)  whether alternatives to guardianship and available supports and services to avoid guardianship were considered;

                         (3-b)  whether any alternatives to guardianship and   supports and services available to the proposed ward considered are feasible and would avoid the need for a guardianship;

                         (4)  the nature and degree of the alleged incapacity, the specific areas of protection and assistance requested, and the  limitation or termination of rights requested to be included in the court's order of appointment, including a termination of:

                               (A)  the right of a proposed ward who is 18 years of age or older to vote in a public election; [and]

                               (B)  the proposed ward's eligibility to hold or obtain a license to operate a motor vehicle under Chapter 521, Transportation Code; and

                               (C)  the right of a proposed ward to make personal

            decisions regarding residence;

                         (5)  the facts requiring the appointment of a guardian;

                         (6)  the interest of the applicant in the appointment of a guardian;

                         (7)  the nature and description of any kind of guardianship existing for the proposed ward in any other state;

                         (8)  the name and address of any person or institution having the care and custody of the proposed ward;

                         (9)  the approximate value and description of the proposed ward's property, including any compensation, pension, insurance, or allowance to which the proposed ward may be entitled;

                         (10)  the name and address of any person whom the applicant knows to hold a power of attorney signed by the proposed  ward and a description of the type of power of attorney;

                         (11)  for a proposed ward who is a minor, the following information if known by the applicant:

                               (A)  the name of each of the proposed ward's parents and either the parent's address or that the parent is deceased;

                               (B)  the name and age of each of the proposed ward's siblings, if any, and either the sibling's address or that the sibling is deceased; and

                               (C)  if each of the proposed ward's parents and adult siblings are deceased, the names and addresses of the proposed ward's other living relatives who are related to the proposed ward within the third degree by consanguinity and who are adults;

                         (12)  for a proposed ward who is a minor, whether the minor was the subject of a legal or conservatorship proceeding in the preceding two years and, if so:

                               (A)  the court involved;

                               (B)  the nature of the proceeding; and

                               (C)  any final disposition of the proceeding;

                         (13)  for a proposed ward who is an adult, the following information if known by the applicant:

                               (A)  the name of the proposed ward's spouse, if any, and either the spouse's address or that the spouse is deceased;

                               (B)  the name of each of the proposed ward's parents and either the parent's address or that the parent is deceased;

                               (C)  the name and age of each of the proposed ward's siblings, if any, and either the sibling's address or that the sibling is deceased;

                               (D)  the name and age of each of the proposed ward's children, if any, and either the child's address or that the child is deceased; and

                               (E)  if there is no living spouse, parent, adult sibling, or adult child of the proposed ward, the names and addresses of the proposed ward's other living relatives who are related to the proposed ward within the third degree by consanguinity and who are adults;

                         (14)  facts showing that the court has venue of the proceeding; and

                         (15)  if applicable, that the person whom the applicant seeks to have appointed as a guardian is a private professional guardian who is certified under Subchapter C, Chapter 155,

            Government Code, and has complied with the requirements of

            Subchapter G, Chapter 1104.

                   SECTION 8.  Section 1101.101, Estates Code, is amended by    amending Subsection (a) and adding Subsection (c) to read as   follows:

                   (a)  Before appointing a guardian for a proposed ward, the

            court must:

                         (1)  find by clear and convincing evidence that:

                               (A)  the proposed ward is an incapacitated person;

                               (B)  it is in the proposed ward's best interest to have the court appoint a person as the proposed ward's guardian;

            [and]

                               (C)  the proposed ward's rights or property will be protected by the appointment of a guardian;

                               (D)  alternatives to guardianship that would avoid the need for the appointment of a guardian have been considered and determined not to be feasible; and

                               (E)  supports and services available to the proposed ward that would avoid the need for the appointment of a guardian have been considered and determined not to be feasible;

            and

                         (2)  find by a preponderance of the evidence that:

                               (A)  the court has venue of the case;

                               (B)  the person to be appointed guardian is eligible to act as guardian and is entitled to appointment, or, if no eligible person entitled to appointment applies, the person appointed is a proper person to act as guardian;

                               (C)  if a guardian is appointed for a minor, the guardianship is not created for the primary purpose of enabling the minor to establish residency for enrollment in a school or school district for which the minor is not otherwise eligible for

            enrollment; and

                               (D)  the proposed ward:

                                     (i)  is totally without capacity as provided by this title to care for himself or herself and to manage his or her property; or

                                     (ii)  lacks the capacity to do some, but not all, of the tasks necessary to care for himself or herself or to manage his or her property.

                   (c)  A finding under Subsection (a)(2)(D)(ii) must specifically state whether the proposed ward lacks the capacity, with or without supports and services, to make personal decisions regarding residence, voting, operating a motor vehicle, and

            marriage.

                   SECTION 9.  Section 1101.103(b), Estates Code, is amended to

            read as follows:

                   (b)  The letter or certificate must:

                         (1)  describe the nature, degree, and severity of the   proposed ward's incapacity, including any functional deficits regarding the proposed ward's ability to:

                               (A)  handle business and managerial matters;

                               (B)  manage financial matters;

                               (C)  operate a motor vehicle;

                               (D)  make personal decisions regarding residence, voting, and marriage; and

                               (E)  consent to medical, dental, psychological, or psychiatric treatment;

                         (2)  in providing a description under Subdivision (1) regarding the proposed ward's ability to operate a motor vehicle and make personal decisions regarding voting, state whether in the physician's opinion the proposed ward:

                               (A)  has the mental capacity to vote in a public election; and

                               (B)  has the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle;

                         (3)  provide an evaluation of the proposed ward's physical condition and mental functioning [function] and summarize the proposed ward's medical history if reasonably available;

                         (3-a)  in providing an evaluation under Subdivision

            (3), state whether improvement in the proposed ward's physical condition and mental functioning is possible and, if so, state the period after which the proposed ward should be reevaluated to determine whether a guardianship continues to be necessary;

                         (4)  state how or in what manner the proposed ward's ability to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning himself or herself is affected by the proposed ward's physical or mental health, including the proposed ward's ability to:

                               (A)  understand or communicate;

                               (B)  recognize familiar objects and individuals;

                               (C)  solve problems [perform simple calculations];

                               (D)  reason logically; and

                               (E)  administer to daily life activities with and without supports and services;

                         (5)  state whether any current medication affects the proposed ward's demeanor or the proposed ward's ability to participate fully in a court proceeding;

                         (6)  describe the precise physical and mental conditions underlying a diagnosis of a mental disability, and state whether the proposed ward would benefit from supports and services           that would allow the individual to live in the least restrictive

            setting;

                         (6-a)  state whether a guardianship is necessary for the proposed ward and, if so, whether specific powers or duties of the guardian should be limited if the proposed ward receives supports and services; and

                         (7)  include any other information required by the court.

                   SECTION 10.  Sections 1101.151(a) and (b), Estates Code, are amended to read as follows:

                   (a)  If it is found that the proposed ward is totally without capacity to care for himself or herself, manage his or her property, operate a motor vehicle, make personal decisions regarding residence, and vote in a public election, the court may appoint a

            guardian of the proposed ward's person or estate, or both, with full   authority over the incapacitated person except as provided by law.

                   (b)  An order appointing a guardian under this section must contain findings of fact and specify:

                         (1)  the information required by Section 1101.153(a);

                         (2)  that the guardian has full authority over the incapacitated person;

                         (3)  if necessary, the amount of funds from the corpus of the person's estate the court will allow the guardian to spend for the education and maintenance of the person under Subchapter A,

            Chapter 1156;

                         (4)  whether the person is totally incapacitated because of a mental condition;

                         (5)  that the person does not have the capacity to operate a motor vehicle, make personal decisions regarding residence, and [to] vote in a public election; and

                         (6)  if it is a guardianship of the person of the ward or of both the person and the estate of the ward, the rights of the guardian with respect to the person as specified in Section

            1151.051(c)(1).

                   SECTION 11.  Sections 1101.152(a) and (b), Estates Code, are

            amended to read as follows:

                   (a)  If it is found that the proposed ward lacks the capacity to do some, but not all, of the tasks necessary to care for himself or herself or to manage his or her property with or without supports and services, the court may appoint a guardian with limited powers and permit the proposed ward to care for himself or herself,

            including making personal decisions regarding residence, or to manage his or her property commensurate with the proposed ward's ability.

                   (b)  An order appointing a guardian under this section must contain findings of fact and specify:

                         (1)  the information required by Section 1101.153(a);

                         (2)  the specific powers, limitations, or duties of the guardian with respect to the person's care or the management of the person's property by the guardian;

                         (2-a)  the specific rights and powers retained by the person:

                               (A)  with the necessity for supports and services; and

                               (B)  without the necessity for supports and services;

                         (3)  if necessary, the amount of funds from the corpus of the person's estate the court will allow the guardian to spend for the education and maintenance of the person under Subchapter A,

            Chapter 1156; and

                         (4)  whether the person is incapacitated because of a mental condition and, if so, whether the person:

                               (A)  retains the right to make personal decisions regarding residence or vote in a public election; or

                               (B)  maintains eligibility to hold or obtain a license to operate a motor vehicle under Chapter 521,

            Transportation Code.

                   SECTION 12.  Section 1101.153, Estates Code, is amended by

            adding Subsection (a-1) to read as follows:

                   (a-1)  If the letter or certificate under Section

            1101.103(b)(3-a) stated that improvement in the ward's physical condition or mental functioning is possible and specified a period of less than a year after which the ward should be reevaluated to determine continued necessity for the guardianship, an order appointing a guardian must include the date by which the guardian must submit to the court an updated letter or certificate containing the requirements of Section 1101.103(b).

                   SECTION 13.  Section 1104.002, Estates Code, is amended to

            read as follows:

                   Sec. 1104.002.  PREFERENCE OF INCAPACITATED PERSON.  Before             appointing a guardian, the court shall make a reasonable effort to consider the incapacitated person's preference of the person to be appointed guardian and, to the extent consistent with other provisions of this title, shall give due consideration to the preference indicated by the incapacitated person, regardless of whether the person has designated by declaration a guardian before the need arises under Subchapter E.

                   SECTION 14.  Section 1151.051, Estates Code, is amended by

            adding Subsection (e) to read as follows:

                   (e)  Notwithstanding Subsection (c)(1) and except in cases of emergency, a guardian of the person of a ward may only place the ward in a more restrictive care facility if:

                         (1)  the guardian files an application with the court;

                         (2)  the guardian provides notice to any persons who have requested notice; and

                         (3)  the placement is authorized by court order.

                   SECTION 15.  Sections 1202.001(b) and (c), Estates Code, are

            amended to read as follows:

                   (b)  A guardianship shall be settled and closed when the ward:

                         (1)  dies and, if the ward was married, the ward's spouse qualifies as survivor in community;

                         (2)  is found by the court to have full capacity, with or without supports and services, to care for himself or herself and to manage the ward's property;

                         (3)  is no longer a minor; or

                         (4)  no longer must have a guardian appointed to receive funds due the ward from any governmental source.

                   (c)  Except for an order issued under Section 1101.153(a-1),

            an [An] order appointing a guardian or a successor guardian may specify a period of not more than one year during which a petition for adjudication that the ward no longer requires the guardianship may not be filed without special leave.

                   SECTION 16.  Section 1202.051, Estates Code, is amended to

            read as follows:

                   Sec. 1202.051.  APPLICATION AUTHORIZED.  A ward or any person interested in the ward's welfare may file a written application with the court for an order:

                         (1)  finding that the ward is no longer an incapacitated person and ordering the settlement and closing of the guardianship;

                         (2)  finding that the ward lacks the capacity, with or without supports and services, to do some or all of the tasks necessary to provide food, clothing, or shelter for himself or herself, to care for the ward's own physical health, or to manage the ward's own financial affairs and granting additional powers or duties to the guardian; or

                         (3)  finding that the ward has the capacity, with or without supports and services, to do some, but not all, of the tasks necessary to provide food, clothing, or shelter for himself or herself, to care for the ward's own physical health, or to manage

            the ward's own financial affairs and:

                               (A)  limiting the guardian's powers or duties; and

                               (B)  permitting the ward to care for himself or herself, make personal decisions regarding residence, or [to] manage the ward's own financial affairs commensurate with the ward's ability, with or without supports and services.

                   SECTION 17.  Section 1202.151(a), Estates Code, is amended

            to read as follows:

                   (a)  Except as provided by Section 1202.201, at a hearing on an application filed under Section 1202.051, the court shall consider only evidence regarding the ward's mental or physical capacity at the time of the hearing that is relevant to the complete

            restoration of the ward's capacity or modification of the ward's guardianship, including whether:

                         (1)  the guardianship is necessary; and

                         (2)  specific powers or duties of the guardian should be limited if the ward receives supports and services.

                   SECTION 18.  Section 1202.152(b), Estates Code, is amended

            to read as follows:

                   (b)  A letter or certificate presented under Subsection (a)

            must:

                         (1)  describe the nature and degree of incapacity, including the medical history if reasonably available, or state that, in the physician's opinion, the ward has the capacity, with or without supports and services, to:

                               (A)  provide food, clothing, and shelter for himself or herself;

                               (B)  care for the ward's own physical health; and

                               (C)  manage the ward's financial affairs;

                         (2)  provide a medical prognosis specifying the estimated severity of any incapacity;

                         (3)  state how or in what manner the ward's ability to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning himself or herself is affected by the ward's physical or mental health;

                         (4)  state whether any current medication affects the ward's demeanor or the ward's ability to participate fully in a court proceeding;

                         (5)  describe the precise physical and mental conditions underlying a diagnosis of senility, if applicable; and

                         (6)  include any other information required by the     court.

                   SECTION 19.  Section 1202.153(c), Estates Code, is amended

            to read as follows:

                   (c)  Before limiting the powers granted to or duties required to be performed by the guardian under an application filed under Section 1202.051, the court must find by a preponderance of the evidence that the current nature and degree of the ward's

            incapacity, with or without supports and services, warrants a modification of the guardianship and that some of the ward's rights need to be restored, with or without supports and services.

                   SECTION 20.  Section 1202.154(a), Estates Code, is amended

            to read as follows:

                   (a)  A court order entered with respect to an application

            filed under Section 1202.051 to completely restore a ward's

            capacity or modify a ward's guardianship must state:

                         (1)  the guardian's name;

                         (2)  the ward's name; [and]

                         (3)  whether the type of guardianship being addressed at the proceeding is a:

                               (A)  guardianship of the person;

                               (B)  guardianship of the estate; or

                               (C)  guardianship of both the person and the estate; and

                         (4)  if applicable, any necessary supports and services for the restoration of the ward's capacity or modification of the guardianship.

                   SECTION 21.  Section 1202.156, Estates Code, is amended to

            read as follows:

                   Sec. 1202.156.  ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR ORDER MODIFYING

            GUARDIANSHIP.  If the court finds that a guardian's powers or duties should be expanded or limited, the order modifying the guardianship must contain findings of fact and specify, in addition to the information required by Section 1202.154:

                         (1)  the specific powers, limitations, or duties of the guardian with respect to the care of the ward or the management of the ward's property, as appropriate;

                         (2)  the specific areas of protection and assistance to be provided to the ward;

                         (3)  any limitation of the ward's rights;

                         (4)  if the ward's incapacity resulted from a mental   condition, whether the ward retains the right to vote and make personal decisions regarding residence; and

                         (5)  that the clerk shall modify the letters of   guardianship to the extent applicable to conform to the order.

                   SECTION 22.  The heading to Subtitle I, Title 3, Estates

            Code, is amended to read as follows:

            SUBTITLE I. OTHER SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS AND SUBSTITUTES FOR

            [ALTERNATIVES TO] GUARDIANSHIP

                   SECTION 23.  (a) Except as otherwise provided by this section, the changes in law made by this Act apply to:

                         (1)  a guardianship created before, on, or after the effective date of this Act; and

                         (2)  an application for a guardianship pending on, or filed on or after, the effective date of this Act.

                   (b)  Sections 1054.004 and 1054.054, Estates Code, as amended by this Act, apply only to a guardianship proceeding for  which a court has appointed a guardian ad litem or attorney ad litem to represent the interests of a proposed ward on or after the