Since you have been named to help Tom make decisions for himself, you now have a special relationship of trust and confidence with him. Texas law calls on supporters to adhere to specific fiduciary duties. As Tom's supporter, you owe him the duty to act in good faith, act within the authority granted in the supported decision-making agreement, act loyally and without self-interest, and avoid conflicts of interest. You must exercise the authority in the supported decision-making agreement for his benefit, not yours. It does not matter if you are a family member or not.
To live up to those duties when you act as a supporter for Tom, you have four basic responsibilities:
- Act only in Tom’s best interest.
- Help Tom make good decisions.
- Keep Tom’s personal information private.
- Help Tom communicate his decisions as necessary.
If you do not meet these standards, you could be sued or have to repay money. It is even possible that the police or sheriff could investigate you and you could go to jail. That's why it's always important to remember: It's not your money!
Others may be authorized to act on Tom’s behalf.
In your role as supporter, you may act as or deal with other people who are authorized to act on Tom’s behalf. These may include:
Trustees under a trust: Someone names them to manage money and property.
Representative payees or, for veterans, VA fiduciaries: A government agency names them to manage government money that is paid to someone.
Agents under a power of attorney: Someone names an agent to manage their money and property in case they are not able to do it.
Guardians: A court names them to manage money and property for someone who needs help.
Check out the other guides in this toolkit for information explaining the duties of these people.