ROLE OF THE ATTORNEY AND GUARDIAN AD LITEM

 

 

 

 

 

Presented by:

 

HON. RUTH ANN STILES

Associate Judge

Harris County Probate Court One

713/755-6084

 

 

Article:

 

The Ad Litem Manual for Guardianship & Heirship Proceedings

In Tarrant County Probate Court Number One

 

 

Written By:

 

STEVE M. KING

Judge, Tarrant County Probate Court Number One

Fort Worth, Texas

 

 

 

 

 

State Bar of Texas

ADVANCED GUARDIANSHIP COURSE

March 9, 2006

Dallas

 

CHAPTER 2

 



TABLE OF CONTENTS

I.    INTRODUCTION................................................................................................... 1

A.   Attempted Ends  Hopefully, this manual will assist you to:................................................ 1

B.    Semantics and Definitions:.................................................................................... 1

CAVEAT: Pay attention to what you are reading................................................................ 1

C.    Certification Requirements.................................................................................... 1

D.   Liability and Immunity........................................................................................ 1

II.   AREAS IN WHICH AD LITEMS ARE APPOINTED........................................................... 3

A.   Appointment of a Guardian................................................................................... 3

HIPAA Considerations:............................................................................................. 4

B. Restoration/Modification of Guardianship - Attorney Ad Litem............................................ 5

C.    Removal of Community Administrator - Attorney Ad Litem TPC §883D.............................. 5

D.   Heirship Determinations - Attorney Ad Litem............................................................. 5

E.    Trust Construction or Modification Actions - Guardian Ad Litem........................................ 5

F.    Mental Health Commitments - Attorney Ad Litem........................................................ 5

G.    Sports and Entertainment Contracts Entered Into by Minors............................................. 6

H.   Application by Guardian of the Estate to Inspect Estate Planning Instruments of Ward............... 6

I.    Show Cause and Compliance Actions......................................................................... 6

J.    Judicial Bypass Proceedings – Guardian Ad Litem and Attorney Ad Litem............................... 6

K.   Family Code Appointments – Guardian Ad Litem and Attorney Ad Litem.............................. 6

L.    Utility Outfielder Appointments - Attorney Ad Litem.................................................... 6

III.  ONWARD THROUGH THE FOG: PRACTICAL POINTERS.................................................. 6

A.   Learn the Law/Embrace the Technology.................................................................... 6

B.    Learn the Ropes................................................................................................ 7

C.    ‘You're Not From Around Here, Are You?’ - Local Rules:................................................. 7

D.   Get the Facts.................................................................................................... 7

CAVEAT: Granny-Cams and Ad Litems........................................................................... 7

E.    Is Your Doctor's Letter Still Timely?........................................................................ 7

F.    Mentally Retarded Potential Ward?.......................................................................... 7

G.    Is the Application Timely?................................................................................... 7

H.   Who Picks Up the Tab?....................................................................................... 7

I.    Make a Threshold Determination............................................................................ 8

J.    Less Restrictive Alternatives:................................................................................. 8

K.   Notices: Jurisdictional Foundation and The Laundry List.................................................. 8

L.    File an Answer.................................................................................................. 9

M.   Ad Litem Report............................................................................................... 9

N.   Settings.......................................................................................................... 9

O.   The Hearing: Some General and Practical Observations.................................................... 9

1.    Generally:................................................................................................. 9

2.    Paperwork:................................................................................................ 9

3.    Testimony................................................................................................ 9

4.   Burden(s) of Proof:...................................................................................... 10

5.    Decorum:................................................................................................ 10

P.    Bond…. Surety Bond......................................................................................... 10

Q.   Temporary Guardianships.................................................................................... 10

Practice Pointer:................................................................................................... 11

Caveat:.............................................................................................................. 11

R.    Actively Contesting the Application....................................................................... 11

1.    Contest the Application................................................................................ 11

2.    Set the Hearing on the Contested Docket............................................................ 11

3.    Request a Statutory Probate Judge..................................................................... 11

4.    Consider Seeking Security for Costs................................................................... 12

5.    Ask for a Jury Trial..................................................................................... 12

6.    Pursue Adequate Discovery............................................................................. 12

7.    Is the Medical Evidence Sufficient?................................................................... 12

Caveat:   Plan Ahead for DMRs................................................................................... 12

8.    Seek an Independent Medical Exam................................................................... 12

9.   Shutting the Gate: TROs, Temporary Guardianships and Notices of Lis Pendens................. 12

10.   Challenging the Applicant............................................................................. 13

11.   If Advantageous, Try to Have Your Client Appear at the Hearing................................ 13

12.   Consider Requesting a Closed Hearing................................................................. 13

13.   An Appealing Thought?................................................................................ 13

14.   Don’t Get Lost Enjoying Yourself.................................................................... 13

S.    Representation Issues......................................................................................... 14

T.   Advocate for Mediation?.................................................................................... 14

U.   Potential Ancillary Litigation............................................................................... 14

V.    Take The Money – (Fees)................................................................................... 15

1.    Basic Premise:........................................................................................... 15

2.    Proof:.................................................................................................... 15

3.    Application:............................................................................................. 15

4.    County-Pay Cases:...................................................................................... 15

5.    Costs Taxed Against Applicant:....................................................................... 15

6.    Contests:................................................................................................. 15

7.    Contingent Fee Contracts.............................................................................. 15

ETHICAL CONSIDERATION: Contingent Fee Contracts.................................................... 16

8.    Suggestion for More Palatable Fee Applications..................................................... 16

W.  …and Run? (Discharge)...................................................................................... 16

X.   Back in the Saddle Again: Re-Activation of the Ad Litem............................................... 16

IV.   HEIRSHIP PROCEEDINGS....................................................................................... 16

A.   Introduction................................................................................................... 16

B.    Statutory Bases for Ad Litems in Heirship Proceedings................................................... 16

C.    Scope of “Heirship Determinations”....................................................................... 17

D.   Due Diligence by the Attorney Ad Litem in Heirship Proceedings...................................... 17

V.    EPILOGUE: TAKING OVER THE REINS...................................................................... 19

 

APPENDICES:

A.   Policy for Court-Initiated Guardianships..................................................................... 21

B.   §683 Letter & Physician’s Certificate of Medical Exam................................................... 23

C.   Less Restrictive Alternatives to Guardianship............................................................... 29

D.   Tips for Finding the Elusive Person (Living or Otherwise)................................................ 35

E.   Motion in Limine and to Dismiss Application.............................................................. 37

F.   Motion for Independent Medical Examination & Order................................................... 39

G.   Suggested Cross-Examination Questions for the Ad Litem................................................. 41

H.   Fee Application Do’s and Don’ts............................................................................. 43