I often help parents set up future guardianships for their minor children through their wills and trusts.
These families go through extensive planning and thought to make the right choice in who will raise their children should they become unable to do so.
However, most parents rarely consider that they may need to set up temporary guardianships to protect their children over short periods of time.
For example, some parents may need to leave their children with a trusted friend or family member if they travel for business, go on vacation or anticipate a long hospital stay.
Or, sometimes, for various reasons, there are cases where a child leaves home to live with a family member or friend.
In these circumstances, it makes sense to give their temporary caregiver the legal authority to seek medical care, sign consent forms and other important responsibilities.
As you can imagine, it makes things much smoother if there are issues while you’re gone.
Another equally important reason to name temporary guardians is to ensure someone can legally stay with your kids in an unforeseen emergency. Let’s say you are in a car accident on the way home from work. Your kids may be in the care of a babysitter who has no idea that you’ve been injured or why you never made it home.
After time passes, the sitter—or even a concerned family member–will naturally call the police. If you haven’t left anyone legal documentation to be able to care for your kids in emergency, they may be taken into protective services until a proper guardian can be named by a judge.
To avoid this, you can create a temporary guardianship document allowing your children to be with someone you trust until you return, or until long-term guardians can take over.
You can choose to give the temporary guardian only certain specific rights, or to delegate all of the rights of a parent, with a few exceptions. You will need to have the document notarized and have the signatures of all involved parties.
It’s an important step in protecting your children, so I encourage you talk to your local attorney and make sure you have short and long-term guardians in place.
Steven Greenwood, Esq.