Whether a parent is making an estate plan, preparing for international travel, or facing a deportation, parents should address the issue of who will care for their children if they become incapacitated or pass away. Indiana law allows the parent of a minor child to appoint a standby guardian to serve as guardian of their minor child in the event of the parent’s death or incapacitation. A standby guardian is granted the same powers that a guardian is granted when a guardianship is established through the Courts. The use of a standby guardian is meant to provide immediate authority to an individual to act as guardian in the event of the parents’ death or incapacity in the period before the Court appoints a guardian for the minor child.
A parent can appoint a standby guardian by making a notarized written declaration naming the individual designated to serve as standby guardian. A parent can also name an alternate standby guardian in the event the designated standby guardian cannot or will not serve. The designation of a standby guardian is meant to be temporary and is to provide authority to an individual to act on behalf of the minor child in the days immediately following the death or incapacity of their parent. Given the temporary nature of the designation, the appointment of standby guardian terminates ninety days after becoming effective unless the standby guardian files a petition for guardianship of the minor child with the Court during that ninety (90) day period.
A standby guardian appointment is beneficial in providing immediate authority to act on behalf of minor children as the appointment does not require any Court intervention or approval, and is effective immediately upon a parent’s death or incapacity. A standby guardian can provide guidance during the transition after a parent’s death or incapacity and provide clarity in an otherwise difficult situation. The use of a standby guardian is a complimentary tool that can be used in conjunction with your estate plan to provide for a child in the event of the parent’s death.