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Legal Guardianship, Temporary Guardian, & Conservatorship Forms



What is Guardianship and Conservatorship?

Are you struggling with how to care for a child, elderly, or incapacitated person, and wondering "what is guardianship about"? Guardianship and conservatorship are both means of getting legal authority to care for someone in need or manage his or her affairs. Before you take on the role of a guardian or conservator, it's important to understand the role you will play and the responsibilities that go along with it. The meaning of the terms guardianship and conservatorship vary by state, but usually guardianship refers to legal authority for the care and custody of the dependent person, called the ward, whereas a conservatorship is created to manage the ward's property and finances. A conservator may also be called a guardian of the estate.

Unlike the lifetime role created through adoption, the responsibility for a child as a legal guardian typically ends when the child turns 18. Care of an elderly ward may continue until the elderly person's death. It's also possible to create a temporary guardianship, called a standby guardianship in some states. A standby guardian may be created through appointment by a parent in some states, without need for a court order for a change of custody under custody laws. The court may also appoint a guardian ad litem to represent an incapacitated person or child in court proceedings, such as matters in juvenile, probate, or family courts. A guardianship ad litem typically involves appointing a lawyer or other professional to represent the ward's interests in the court case. Some of the reasons why a parent or court might appoint a legal guardian include the following:

  • The parent has a serious physical or mental illness
  • Oversea military service of a parent
  • A parent entering a rehab program
  • Incarceration of a parent
  • A parent's problems with drug or alcohol abuse
  • The parent is unable to care for the child due to other reasons

Unlike the lifetime role created through adoption, the responsibility for a child as a legal guardian typically ends when the child turns 18. Care of an elderly ward may continue until the elderly person's death. It's also possible to create a temporary guardianship, called a standby guardianship in some states. A standby guardian may be created through appointment by a parent in some states, without need for a court order for a change of custody under custody laws. The court may also appoint a guardian ad litem to represent an incapacitated person or child in court proceedings, such as matters in juvenile, probate, or family courts. A guardianship ad litem typically involves appointing a lawyer or other professional to represent the ward's interests in the court case.

US Legal Forms has temporary guardianship forms and power of attorney forms that allow a parent to appoint a temporary guardian for a child. Some states limit the authority of a standby guardian to no more than a year. Parental rights aren't necessarily terminated by appointment of a legal guardian. However, the guardian has primary rights and parental rights like visitation may be subject to approval by the guardian. The parent may still owe a duty of child support despite appointment of a legal guardian, whether or not the birth parents continue to play a role in the child's life.

A guardian who has custody of a ward will have the following duties over the child or incapacitated person:

  • Food, shelter and clothing
  • Protecting their safety
  • Physical and emotional growth
  • Dental and medical and care
  • Education and any special needs

A guardian or conservator may also be responsible for the ward's estate and must use utmost care to protect the ward's assets. A guardian or conservator is considered a fiduciary and owes the highest degree of loyalty to the ward. Financial accountings will typically required to be filed in court on a periodic basis. Guardianship of an elderly or incapacitated person can often be avoided by creating a power of attorney and living will before the incapacity arises. US Legal Forms offers affordable, top quality power of attorney, temporary guardianship forms, and guardianship forms to meet all of your needs.