Estate planning lawyers in Orange County work daily with families who want to use their wills and trusts to set up guardianships for their minor children.  They go through extensive thought, planning, and soul-searching to make just the right choice in who will take over raising their children should they become unable to do so.  It rarely occurs to parents that there is a real need to set up temporary guardianships at various times, often for really simple, but overlooked, reasons.

For example, many parents leave their children with a trusted friend or family member when going on a business trip or vacation or even when the parent must spend time in the hospital or recovery.  There are also cases where a child leaves the home to live with a family member or friend for various reasons.

In these circumstances, it makes sense to give that person the legal ability to do things such as seek medical care, consent to school field trips, etc.  If you are planning to leave your children in someone else’s care for much time, then filling out and signing a temporary power of attorney can make things much smoother should there be any question while you’re gone.  For example, the temporary guardian could take your child to the doctor without having to have you make multiple phone calls to attempt to give your consent.

One area in which you might want to get your estate planning lawyer involved is when it comes to emergency situations.  It is possible to assign a temporary guardian in situations where an emergency has arisen.  A useful example is if you happen to be injured and hospitalized while your children are in the care of a babysitter.  When you don’t arrive home, the sitter will generally call the police who will have to get protective services involved because there is no legal documentation allowing the children to stay with the sitter.  To avoid this, you can create a temporary guardianship document that allows your children to be with someone you trust until you are able to return to them or until their more long-term guardians can take over.

The rights you choose to delegate to the temporary guardian can vary, and it’s a good idea to work with an Orange County attorney to ensure that you’re following the letter of the law.  In most cases, you can choose to give the temporary guardian only specific rights or to delegate all of the rights of a parent to the adult in question, with only a few exceptions.  In addition to signatures of involved parties, you will need to have the document witnessed.