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by: Kelli E. Madigan

Who will take care of our children when we are gone? This is a question many ask, but not as many ever answer. Illinois law gives parents the opportunity to answer that question in a manner that can offer short-term and long-term peace of mind through the appointment of a short-term child guardian and a standby child guardian.

A short-term minor guardianship can be appointed without court approval by executing a written instrument that names the person to be appointed. The short-term guardian has the authority to act as guardian of the minor for 60 days from the date of appointment unless the written instrument provides for a shorter period. The instrument may be amended or revoked at any time by the appointing parent and in any manner so long as the revocation is communicated to the short-term guardian.

Appointment of a short-term guardianship is a simple way to provide for important childcare decisions to be made by someone you trust. For instance, you can appoint a short-term guardian when you enjoy a relaxing vacation away from home.

Standby guardianship is when a court appoints a guardian and the actual guardianship does not take effect until the parents of a minor child are deceased or are no longer capable of making child care decisions. A standby guardian is designated by written instrument, like a will, but is not appointed until a petition is filed and approved by the court.

A standby guardian of a child is designated by parents during their lifetimes, but does not affect the rights of the parents during their lifetimes. A court will appoint a standby guardian upon notification of the death of the minor’s parents, consent of the minor’s parents, or the inability of the parents to make childcare decisions.

Appointing a standby guardian makes the court’s job easier in the event that something should happen to a child’s parents and the need for a guardian arises. It also eases the parents’ minds by allowing them to choose a guardian they know and trust.

Both guardianship appointments require certain statutory compliance and should not be entered into casually. Neither a short-term guardian nor a standby guardian can be appointed by a parent whose parental rights have been terminated by some other proceeding. Likewise, neither a short-term guardian or a standby guardian can be appointed for a minor who has another living parent, natural, adoptive or adjudicated whose parental rights have not been terminated and whose whereabouts are known. In addition, the other living parent must be willing and able to make day-to-day childcare decisions. The other living parent, however, can consent to the appointment.

Professional Services Disclaimer: Please note that the information presented here is as an educational service, and while it contains information about legal issues, it is not legal advice. No warranty is made regarding the applicability of the information presented to a particular client situation, and the information set forth is not a substitute for original legal research, analysis and drafting for a particular client situation.