Contesting Guardianships in Houston, Texas

Challenging or Contesting A Guardianship

A guardianship can be challenged or contested either after an Application for Guardianship has been filed but before the Guardianship is granted, or at some time in the future when the facts warrant after a Guardianship has been established by the court. The procedures to do so may be different, but the basic principles are the same.

Generally, if you are a family member, interested party or the ward and believe that the person who is requesting to be the guardian is either the wrong one for the job due to their character or ability, or is unethical, and you have proof of that, a challenge by way of an answer and possible cross-application for the guardian to the initial guardianship application can be filed before the Application for Guardianship is heard by the judge.

If, on the other hand at any time after a guardianship is established you learn that the guardian is abusing the ward, is neglecting the ward, that the guardian has committed a serious crime of which she or he has been convicted, is taking from the ward’s finances in a dishonest way or has committed some type of fraud or misrepresentation, you should bring this to the attention of the court as soon as possible by a contest to the guardianship.

You will need an experienced, well-versed lawyer in guardianship challenges and contests such as those at Stepp & Sullivan, P.C. to file the contest, collect the proper evidence, and to persuasively present your challenge to the judge. The judge will hold a hearing or set a trial on the challenge wherein documents and witnesses are presented to prove your claim.

The guardian can also present documents and witnesses on his or her own behalf in an effort to show you are incorrect. After the hearing or trial, the judge will weigh the merits of the evidence and will decide as to whether the guardian is or is not to continue in his or her role. The judge will then decide if a new guardian should be appointed and who that guardian should be.

The complexity of the hearing in which guardianship is challenged or contested differs due to the facts and in which court the case is heard. Some hearings may take several hours while others can take a day or more depending on the documentary evidence and number of witnesses. It is important that you hire an experienced lawyer is such cases to properly prepare your case before the hearing or trial, present the documentary evidence to the court, to properly present your witness, and to vigorously cross-examine the proposed guardian or appointed guardian as well as his or her witnesses.

Our Houston guardianship lawyers at Stepp & Sullivan, P.C have years of experience in the courtroom and are an excellent choice no matter how complex the case may be. We are absolutely dedicated to helping you obtain the desired results at the most reasonable cost possible.

FAQ Guardianship Contest or Challenge

Yes. If the guardianship application is on file you can contest it if you are the ward, a family member or an interested party. After a guardianship is granted you can still challenge it by filing in the court where the guardianship was granted.

Yes, You need an experienced lawyer who is both skilled in probate law as well as trial law.

Generally, a suit to contest or remove a guardian is based on evidence that the guardian to be appointed or one who has already been appointed and is serving as guardian is unfit to care for the ward, has done unethical and or illegal acts in handling the ward’s affairs or has failed to follow the orders of the court.

  • The guardian has neglected the ward, such as failing to provide appropriate nutrition, medical care, clothing or housing.
  • The guardian has committed a crime of which he or she has been convicted.
  • The guardian has made material misrepresentations or committed fraud.
  • The guardian has or there is evidence that the guardian has improperly spent the ward’s money and or taken money or property of the ward for his or her own use.
  • The guardian has charged the ward’s estate inappropriate or excessive fees.
  • The guardian has failed to follow the dictates of the court in its order granting the guardianship.

It can be resolved by either, depending on the facts and the court. If the contest is straightforward and you have the evidence to prove that the guardian should be removed, a hearing may suffice. However, this is not often the case and facts must be properly brought before court in a trial. Here, the person contesting the guardian must present documentary evidence and present witnesses to prove that the guardian is unfit or that the terms of the guardianship need be altered. Some of this evidence will be objected to by the guardian and your witnesses will be cross-examined. Your attorney will then have the opportunity to cross-examine the guardian and object to his or her evidence presented that there has been no wrongdoing. This is why you must hire lawyers who are knowledgeable not only in guardianship law, but are also excellent and experienced trial lawyers such as those at Stepp & Sullivan, P.C.

Again, this depends on the case and the court. A simple case with evidence that is uncontestable may take an hour or two. A more hotly contested proceeding to remove the guardian can take several days, depending on the amount of documentary evidence and the number of witnesses.

The judge makes a determination based on the evidence introduced as to whether the guardian has committed the acts alleged and if that warrants the guardian’s removal. If it does, the judge may either appoint a temporary guardian or a new guardian for the ward.

With a straightforward case where these is strong evidence that the guardian should be removed, the attorney’s fees and costs could be as little as $5,000. This, unfortunately is rarely the case, as most such contests involve a number of documents which must be subpoenaed and then proven up, and a number of witnesses that must be presented and examined. Such more complex litigation may cost $20,000 or more. Again, this is why you should hire knowledgeable and experienced attorneys who know the best and most efficient way to prepare and present your case such as those at Stepp & Sullivan, P.C.

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