During a four-hour hearing last month in Austin, a few Texas senators listened to more than 20 people talk about problems in the state's guardianship system.
Some speakers complained that it is too political, with probate judges favoring certain attorneys for appointments on cases.
Others were angered that the probate code allows for ex parte hearings that, in emergency circumstances, enable judges to remove guardians without notice.
And several speakers accused state and local agencies of not seeking less restrictive alternatives, as required by law, before recommending guardianship.
The Senate Jurisprudence Committee is studying the effectiveness of the guardianship program implemented by the Department of Aging and Disability Services and Adult Protective Services and whether clients and their assets are being adequately protected.
The speakers included parents, former guardians, judges, advocates, court personnel and state officials -- all of whom had differing opinions and separate agendas.
And while criticism of APS and DADS dominated much of the hearing, many speakers voiced their concerns about various probate courts, including in Denton and Tarrant counties.
At least three Tarrant County families complained that Probate Judge Pat Ferchill removed them as their loved ones' guardians in ex parte hearings after receiving information that they were causing problems, were not cooperating or were not providing appropriate care.
"This should never happen -- family members and friends are removed, and no one is ever notified?" said Sharon Richardson, whose guardianship over her mother was stripped. "These ex parte hearings need to stop."
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Texas Senators Hear Complaints About Guardianship System
Notes From Texas Public Hearing: State Senate Committee on Jurispudence