Sometimes a parent is no longer able to care for a child or person with special needs due to terminal illness or disability and wants to transfer custody to a trusted loved one. The parent can choose someone to serve as a standby guardian to care for the child when the parent first becomes incapacitated or passes away and will last for 90 days. During this time, the standby guardian has all the rights and responsibilities of the regular guardian.
How is standby guardianship established?
Under Indiana Code 29-3-3-7, the parent seeking a standby guardian must make a written declaration including certain information. The declaration must include:
- The names of the parent (declarant), designated standby guardian, alternate standby guardian, and minor child/protected person.
- A statement that the declaration will become effective when declarant passes away or becomes incapacitated.
- A statement that the declaration will terminate 90 days after it went into effect unless the standby guardian files for permanent guardianship within the 90 days.
- The declarant’s signature in the presence of a notary public.
A standby guardian declaration is legally binding and allows the person appointed as standby guardian to take over temporarily, if necessary, without having to go through a hearing. A standby guardian is legally allowed to act as a guardian, but the parents will still retain their parental rights. The parents also have the right to revoke the standby guardianship at any time.
Standby guardianship is sometimes necessary to make sure a child or other person in need of protection receives proper care when their parent is unable to provide it.