A guardian of a minor is an individual named by parents or by the court to take legal custody of a minor or their property or both. Normally, this is a task the parents face while drafting a will as part of their estate plan. But in the event of an emergency, who will care for the children?
Many parents assume a family member or close friend will step up to the plate, and they often do – but what legal standing does this person have? Not much, and if parents are temporarily incapacitated, the guardian may need to turn to the courts to give them the legal means to register the child for school, approve medical care and even receive medical information on the child.
As a parent of a minor child, there may be situations where you will need an adult to take care of your child for a short period of time. In such situations most parents use a short-term guardianship form or a caregiver’s affidavit.
A short-term guardianship differs from a temporary guardianship in that a temporary guardian is appointed by the courts, a short-term guardian by the parents. While permanent guardianship of a child is normally addressed in a will, a short term guardianship should be addressed separately. The following topics are normally addressed in the document:
- The choice of the short-term guardian;
- A caregiver authorization for medical care of the child (although this may also be done separately);
- The ability to make medical decisions for the child;
- The ability to travel with the child if necessary; and
- The ability to enroll the child in school.
Have any forms or documents relating to a short-term guardianship in an easy-to-find location and inform the short term guardian of the location in case of emergency.