Our firm has extensive experience in guardianship matters. Mark Stanton Smith has been twice elected President of the National Guardianship Association and served on its board for more than a decade. He also served on the board of the National Guardianship Foundation, an accrediting agency. Mark Smith was one of the authors of the certification exam for guardians that is used in many states of the nation and was editor of “The National Guardian” in 1995. He was appointed by the statutory probate judges of Texas to the Texas Guardianship Advisory Board where he served for eight years. The Texas Guardianship Advisory Board was created by the Texas legislature to advise it in guardianship policies. Mr. Smith has been recognized as an expert witness in guardianship cases. Mark Stanton Smith is also a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and San Antonio Estate Planning Council and the San Antonio Bar Association.
Mark Stanton Smith has lectured, written and taught on many occasions to conferences of the National Guardianship Association, the American Association of Retired Persons, the State Bar of Texas, the San Antonio Bar Association, and the National College of Probate Judges. He has also lectured and taught to several regional and governmental agencies in the States of Alaska, Illinois, Arizona and Florida on guardianship issues.
The “guardian” is a person appointed to handle the affairs of another, called a “ward.” In Texas, the law presumes that an adult 18 years of age or older is capable of managing his/her own affairs. But, if it can be proven that a person lacks capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions, the courts will enter orders appointing a guardian to protect the ward. A “lack of capacity” can result from mental illness, developmental disability, physical incapacity, chronic alcohol or drug abuse, or dementia.
In recent years the Texas Legislature has tightened the requirements for guardianship. Substantial evidence is required to establish a guardianship. The guardian must have a clean background and an ability to qualify for a bond. Once a guardianship is established, there are significant annual reporting requirements. Experienced legal counsel is required to establish a guardianship and to maintain it properly. With our decades of legal experience in this area, the attorneys at Heard & Smith, LLP are fully prepared to assist you in obtaining and properly maintaining a guardianship proceeding.