Guardianship Alternatives

Learn about guardianship and supported decision-making.

Table of Contents

Guardianship is a legal tool that allows a person to make decisions for another person. Although the state directs a court to “design a guardianship to encourage the development or maintenance of maximum self-reliance and independence of the incapacitated person,” courts often create a full guardianship, which deprive people with disabilities of their right to make fundamental decisions about their lives.

TCDD’s Contributions to Guardianship Alternatives

While guardianships are intended to protect people from abuse or neglect, the judicial process removes individuals’ rights and their ability to make choices and control their own lives by transferring power to court-appointed guardians. TCDD believes that the vast majority of people with disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, do not need guardians. TCDD funded the following grant projects related to guardianship alternatives:

The Arc of San Angelo piloted a program to demonstrate how volunteers can support individuals with intellectual, developmental and other cognitive disabilities in making decisions about their own lives. TCDD collaborated with the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services to create this pilot program under a bill passed by the Texas Legislature in 2009. The three-year project in Tom Green County trained volunteers to assist in decision-making based on the principles of self-determination, matched them with individuals with disabilities with shared interests, and provided support to the volunteers. It also diverted several court-initiated guardianships.

Public Policy

TCDD supports increasing opportunities for and protecting the self-determination and civil rights of people with developmental disabilities (DD). Independent or supported decision-making must be the first and preferred option for people with DD, including when guardianship is explored. Guardianship practices and access to guardianship information are included in our Public Policy Priorities.

Read written testimony on House Bill 1675, which related to guardianship of people with profound intellectual disabilities. The bill was introduced during the 87th Texas legislative session in 2021.


Supported Decision-Making Agreement

Supported decision-making is an alternative to legal guardianship in Texas law that supports people to make their own decisions and stay in charge of their lives while receiving any help they need to do so. In 2015, Texas became the first state to put supported decision-making into law. You can make plans based on you and your family’s needs through this Supported Decision-Making Agreement (PDF, 72.5 KB, 2 pages).

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