In the film, Life as We Know It, two people whose careers are on the rise and don’t like each other suddenly find out they are both named co-guardians for an infant…when her parents are killed in an accident.
Both guardians (a man and a woman) are godparents of the child and forced to care for her, not to mention having to live together. Many changes ensue when the two guardians learn how much it costs to raise a child and how challenging it is to get along with each other in the process.
I'm sure you're wondering...can this sort of guardianship situation really happen?
Well, not in Texas. It is plausible to have a legal document drawn up that makes a godparent, or anyone of you choosing, a guardian. Keep in mind, however, a court must appoint a guardian; an individual does not become a guardian because a family member or friend appoints them as such in a document. In Texas, when necessary, a court appoints a guardian of the person, a guardian of the estate, or both:
- Guardian of the Person: someone who is responsible for making medical decisions, as well as where to live, go to school, etc.
- Guardian of the Estate: (if necessary) is someone who is responsible for all of the estate’s assets such as money, financial decisions, etc.
But in Texas, there cannot be co-guardians unless they meet one of the requirements of section 690 of the Texas Probate Code: Sec. 690.
PERSONS APPOINTED GUARDIAN. Only one person may be appointed as guardian of the person or estate, but one person may be appointed guardian of the person and another of the estate, if it is in the best interest of the ward (individual). Nothing in this section prohibits the joint appointment, if the court finds it to be in the best interest of the ward, of:
- A husband and wife;
- Joint managing conservators;
- Co-guardians appointed under the laws of a jurisdiction other than this state; or
- Both parents of an adult who is incapacitated if the incapacitated person:
- has not been the subject of a suit affecting the parent-child relationship; or
- has been the subject of a suit affecting the parent-child relationship and both of the incapacitated person's parents were named as joint managing conservators in the suit but are no longer serving in that capacity.
Those you appoint to be guardians of your minor child(ren) should be notified before you die to make sure they are prepared to accept the responsibility of raising your child(ren) if anything should happen to you. It should come as no surprise, like it did in the movie.
We also advise that you not only designate the guardian of the person and estate for your minor child(ren) in your Will, but strongly encourage the completion of a document (that Texas allows) naming the guardian of the person and estate of your minor child(ren)in the event of your incapacity. Once appointed as a guardian by a court, one cannot merely walk away from that responsibility.
Life as we know it is unexpected, but planning for situations like these can save you from complications later.
If you have any questions regarding guardianship, we have the knowledge to help! Fill out our Contact Us webform or call our office at 214.559.7202.