Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 3144
By: Hartnett
Judicial Affairs


Notice of application of guardianship, physical examination by a physician
of a ward, and closing or terminating of a guardianship, paying creditors,
or selling certain assets of the estate are some issues that arise with
regard to guardianships for incapacitated persons, wards, or former wards.
Prior to the 77th Legislature, a probate court was prohibited from acting
on an application for guardianship until all adult siblings and all adult
children of the proposed ward were served with notice.  This may have taken
any number of months, but the validity of the guardianship may have been
affected if all such persons were not served with notice.  A court was
authorized to appoint a physician to examine the proposed ward if the court
determined that this was necessary, but the court was not required to have
a hearing for this purpose. Previous law did not place a time constraint on
a claim made on a ward's estate by an unsecured creditor, though similar
provisions exist regarding a decedent's estate.  Also, there were caps on
the amount of money of an estate under which the guardianship of the estate
may have been terminated, creditors paid, or an interest of the estate may
have been sold.  House Bill 3144 modifies provisions relating to
guardianship of incapacitated persons, wards, or former wards to address
these issues.        


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. 


House Bill 3144 amends the Texas Probate Code to modify provisions relating
to guardianship for  a ward, former ward, or incapacitated person.  The
bill requires a sheriff or other officer to personally serve citation to
appear and answer an application for guardianship on a proposed ward's
spouse if the whereabouts of the spouse are known or can be reasonably
ascertained.  The bill provides that the validity of a guardianship is not
affected by the failure to notify all adult siblings (Sec. 633).  The bill
provides that a court must make a determination as to whether it is
necessary to appoint physicians to examine the proposed ward at a hearing
and requires an applicant, not later than the 4th day before the date of
the hearing, to give to the proposed ward and the proposed ward's attorney
ad litem written notice specifying the purpose, date, and time of the
hearing (Sec. 687).   

House Bill 3144 increases, from $25,000 to $100,000, the maximum amount
that a minor's estate may consist of in cash or cash equivalents for the
guardianship of the estate to be terminated and the assets paid to the
county clerk for management (Sec. 745).  The bill authorizes the guardian
of an estate to expressly state in a notice to an unsecured creditor that
the unsecured creditor must present a claim not later than the 120th day
after the date on which the unsecured creditor receives notice or the claim
is barred, if the claim is not barred by the general statutes of
limitation.  The bill provides that such notice must include the address to
which claims may be presented and an instruction that the claim be filed
with the clerk of the court issuing the letters of guardianship.  The bill
provides  that a claim of an unsecured creditor for money that is not
presented within the time prescribed by these provisions is barred.  (Secs.
784 and 786).   

House Bill 3144 increases, from $50,000 to $100,000, the maximum amount of
liquidated and uncontested  funds for which a resident or nonresident
person is without guardianship, who is a creditor and who is entitled to
such money is authorized to have the money paid to the county clerk of the
county in which the creditor resides.  The bill also increases, from
$50,000 to $100,000, the maximum amount of an interest of an estate of a
minor or ward for which an application for an order to sell such interest
may be made (Secs. 887, 889, and 890).       


September 1, 2001.