HBA-KMH H.B. 2165 76(R)BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 2165 By: Naishtat Judicial Affairs 6/4/1999 Enrolled BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Prior to the 76th Legislature, a court could only authorize compensation for a guardian of the person from the ward's estate. If the ward had no estate, the court could not compensate guardians of the person and had to find volunteers to serve when the ward had no suitable family members. Courts needed to appoint guardians in indigent guardianship cases, but were resistant to paying guardians because of this law. County commissioners courts were willing to allow courts to pay guardians of the person out of the court's budget, but were reluctant to do so because of the law. Similarly, attorneys who represented applicants to be appointed as guardians for indigent, incapacitated persons could not be paid for their services by the court. The law provided that an applicant's attorney was to be paid from the ward's estate. If the ward had no estate, the attorney had to depend on the applicant to pay the attorney's fees for filing the guardianship application. Lack of funds prevented many family members or friends from pursuing guardianship of their incapacitated relatives or friends. Some courts wished to pay attorneys to file these applications to protect incapacitated persons in their counties. H.B. 2165 authorizes a county to pay for certain attorney and guardian ad litem fees if appropriate out of the county treasury. This bill authorizes certain evidence to be required to establish probable cause regarding the appointment a guardian, including a letter of information and a letter or certificate from a physician about the proposed ward. Furthermore, this bill provides the required content of the letter described by this Act. Additionally, this bill authorizes a guardian of the person to complete and file the report required by this Act without the assistance of an attorney. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS SECTION 1. Amends Section 665, Texas Probate Code, to authorize the court to authorize compensation for the services of a private professional guardian or a licensed attorney serving as guardian of the ward's person from the county treasury, if funds in the county treasury are budgeted for that purpose and the estate of the ward is insufficient to pay for such services. SECTION 2. Amends Section 665B(a), Texas Probate Code, to make conforming and nonsubstantive changes. SECTION 3. Amends Section 683, Texas Probate Code, to authorize a court to require an information letter from an interested person about the proposed ward that satisfies Section 683A and a written letter or certificate from a physician who has examined the proposed ward that satisfies Section 687(a) (Examinations and Reports) except that the letter must be timely. Authorizes a court that creates a guardianship for the ward under this chapter (Guardianships) to authorize compensation of the guardian ad litem who files an application under this section from available funds of the ward's estate. Authorizes the court to authorize the compensation to be paid from the county treasury on a finding that the ward's assets are insufficient to pay for the services provided. SECTION 4. Amends Subpart A, Part 3, Chapter XIII, Texas Probate Code, by adding Section 683A, as follows: Sec. 683A. INFORMATION LETTER. Sets forth the authorized contents of the information letter required by Section 683 of this code. SECTION 5. Amends Section 743, Texas Probate Code, by adding Subsection (j), as follows: (j) Authorizes a guardian of the person to complete and file the report required under this section without the assistance of an attorney. SECTION 6. Makes application of this Act prospective as to Sections 665 and 665B(a), as amended by this Act. SECTION 7. Makes application of this Act prospective as to Section 743(j), as amended by this Act. SECTION 8. Effective date: September 1, 1999. SECTION 9. Emergency clause.