Guardianships are an important bridge between parents and caretakers. There are many different types of guardianships.
Preneed Guardianships are used to declare who cares for one’s children, if the parents die or become incapacitated. Our office handled of these cases recently, and I think that they are good to use.
Simply put, a Preneed Guardian is a statement by a parent of who he or she wants to care their children if they can’t. It should not be confused with a will, which states how a person wants his or her property to be distributed. A Preneed Guardian for Minor Statement must give the full name of the child (or children), date of birth, and his or her social security number. The Statement gets filed with the Clerk of Court. Like a will, the declarant (person making the Statement) signs in front of two witnesses, who also sign in front of the declarant.
Parents who are married are the natural guardians of their children.
If one parent dies, the surviving parent remains the sole natural guardian. When parents divorce and they are granted shared parental responsibility, they remain the natural guardians. If a child is not born within a marriage, the Mother becomes the natural guardian until a court changes this.
Of course, Guardianships are used for persons who are incapacitated. The first step is filing a petition with the Circuit court. The Petitioner must outline his or her relationship to the person, and must provide a factual basis as to why the person is incapacitated. Someone seeking to obtain a guardianship must also identify any potential witnesses, and next of kin. An attorney can be appointed for the incapacitated person.
A guardian can be appointed for someone with developmental disabilities.
This occurs sometimes with divorcing parents who have a child with disabilities. One or both parents may seek to be the child’s guardian when the child becomes an adult. It’s good to address this during the divorce if the parents know their child is disabled. But sometimes the disability occurs later, such as someone who is injured in a car accident.
As this summary shows, there are many types of guardianships. And they may be part of a divorce or paternity case. In any Guardianship case, though, it’s best to consult an attorney.