Guardianship Designations

What Is a Guardianship Designation and Why Is It Important?

The purpose of guardianship designation is appointment of a responsible party to act on behalf of an estate owner or their spouse once they become incapacitated. A key estate document, notarized Designation of Guardianship is part of the comprehensive end-of-life and financial planning of an estate. Guardianship designation of a loved one or attorney, permits a responsible party to make direct medical informed consent and fiduciary decisions. The appointment of an estate owner or spouse’s guardian is often assisted by way of healthcare proxy directives. Such directives usually assign a physician the duty of diagnostic record of patient “incapacitation,” prior to the transfer or durable power of attorney to a designated agent. Planned giving specialists working with nonprofit charitable giving trust contributors, will want to read on to learn more about the drafting of a designation of guardianship by a court, or by way of an estate’s living will document.


The designation of a guardian is an ancillary part of living will directives, specifying a loved one or other responsible party as an agent or trustee, should the party whom the directive concerns no longer be able to act on their own. In circumstances where there is no living family member appointed to guardianship, a person may elect Designation of Guardianship as part of Directive to Physicians, Medical Power of Attorney, or Statutory Durable Power of Attorney. Because a guardianship designation overrides all other powers of attorney, the person appointed in the role must attend to the person’s financial, medical, and legal care as they would themselves prior to incapacitation. A family or hospital can also petition for guardianship rights, thereby gaining control over a patient’s decisions by health proxy of the courts.

Estate Owner Guardianship

Just as it is crucial to protect your children from unforeseen tragedy, so too is it crucial to protect yourself. Should you suffer incapacitating injury, you want to know that you and your estate will be cared for by someone you love and trust.

In Texas, a person may be designated either guardian of a person or guardian of an estate. In the former case, the designated person is responsible for attending to the basic needs of the incapacitated person and may also make decisions concerning medical treatment on their behalf. In the latter case, the designated person is responsible for managing the financial affairs of the incapacitated person including any decisions related to property or real estate.

Surviving Spouse Guardianship

The possibility that an estate owner or their spouse will become incapacitated after one of the loved ones has died, can be daunting for family members without advance directives. The future of an estate is in limbo without the express permission of an owner or joint account owner of a living trust. Living trust or living will advance directives take the guesswork out of end-of-life healthcare and estate trust transfers, protecting the estate and family members from future confusion in the care of an elder or incapacitated loved one no longer able to make decisions on their own behalf. Guardianship does more than protect the person whom the advance directives or alternately, a court has designated. By establishing durable power of attorney, guardianship ensures an incapacitated is cared for according to their wishes, including the control and administration of valuable assets still under their name.