Texas Politics: High Profile Guardianship Case

Texas flagNaming a guardian for minor children is never a pleasant task, but this situation makes a compelling argument for why it is so important. A Texas Attorney General with legal problems was appointed guardian of a large trust for two minor siblings and certain facts don’t seem quite right. That no investigation is being made makes one wonder if this is what their father had in mind.

When minors are to receive an inheritance and no guardian has been named, it is normal for a court to name a Guardian ad Litem. This is typically an attorney who is expected to represent the minors and look out for their best interests. When Tanner Hunt, the son of Texas billionaire Ray Hunt, passed away, he left behind a large trust fund and two minor daughters.

In the Hunt case, current Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was appointed as the Guardian ad Litem for the minor daughters. Questions are being asked about Paxton's role in participating in negotiations that would have potentially bought the daughters out of any interest in the Hunt trust for a substantially lower amount than they would have otherwise been entitled to.

It has also been reported that Paxton had improper contact with the opposition attorney and that the judge who appointed Paxton to the case recused himself from it because of contact with that same attorney. The Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog reports in "Texas Attorney General Played Dubious Role In Hunt Estate Battle" that no investigation is being conducted into this matter.

This case highlights the importance of naming a guardian for any minor children you have in your will. If you do not do it, then a judge will appoint someone. Often the court's appointment will be a local attorney, who may or may not have your children's best interests in mind.

A judge does not have to appoint the guardian you designate, but making your wishes known will carry great weight. Most judges will only appoint someone else if it is obvious that the parents' choice was completely inappropriate.

Contact an experienced estate planning attorney to help you get this essential appointment right.

For additional information on wills, trusts and estate planning in Houston, please click here to visit my website.

Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (August 25, 2015) "Texas Attorney General Played Dubious Role In Hunt Estate Battle."

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