How to Set up Temporary Guardians

How Delegating Parental Powers Can Be Critical

With summer vacation time upon us, even with our Covid-19 world, many people are hitting the road or jumping on a plane.

It is not uncommon to have minor children go on vacation with another family or go on a trip with a sports team or marching band.

What Happens When the Unexpected Happens?

Family of Four Waving goodbye in front of a packed car

Case Study: Your 15-year old daughter, Susie, is going with her best friend Jill and her family on a cross country trip to the Grand Canyon. With Susie gone, you and your spouse decide to head to France on a second honeymoon.

On the way to the Grand Canyon, they stop off to see the world’s largest ball of twine in Kansas. Susie and Jill decide to video themselves doing a dance routine they can post on Tik Tok. While rehearsing, Jill accidentally trips Susie and she falls down a flight of stairs where she suffers a compound leg fracture.

An ambulance is called, and they rush Susie to a local medical facility in a small town. However, the medical center is not equipped to perform this type of surgery and she gets airlifted to Kansas City for emergency surgery.

Jill’s parents are panicked and frantically try to call you. However, after visiting the Eiffel Tower, drinking red wine all day, and a 7-hour time difference, they can’t reach you.

Questions:

  1. Do Jill’s parents have the authority to put Susie on a helicopter to be airlifted?

  2. Do they have the authority to allow the surgery to take place?

  3. What happens if decisions must be made about her care?

  4. What if Susie doesn’t have any health insurance information with her?

Helping Avoid Disasters Is What I Do

These scenarios may not happen often but when they do it’s a mess.

Solution:

Fire Rescue Helicopter Taking Off

Illinois has a law (755 ILCS 5/11-5.4) that allows for “Appointment of Short-Term Guardian”. In other words, you can transfer parental rights on a short-term basis for situations just like this. A guardianship typically involves a judge appointing someone to be a guardian. However, this statute allows a parent to appoint a short-term guardian to make decisions concerning the child’s care. The guardian does not have to related to the child. The short-term guardianship cannot be longer than one year, although the person can be re-appointed guardian again.

The form has to be properly drafted, signed, and witnessed, but allows for the following:

Who Can Become a Legal Guardian in Illinois?

  • They must be at least 18 years of age

  • They must be a resident of the United States

  • They must of sound mind

  • They cannot be legally disabled

  • They cannot have any felony convictions involving the harm or threat of a child

What Powers Does a Short-Term Guardian Have?

  • They must provide the child with food, shelter and medical care

  • They are responsible for the physical custody of the child

  • They can represent the child in any legal proceedings

What This Form Can’t Be Used For:

The short-term guardian will not have any control over the financial assets of the child. That power remains with the parents unless a “Plenary Guardianship” is granted. That would involve the court appointing the Plenary Guardian. Keep in mind that the Parents have the right to terminate the guardianship at any time even before the end date of the guardianship.

Recommendations

  1. If you are sending your minor child on a trip with another family, school group, or club, you may consider having a proper “Short-Term Guardian” form completed.

  2. Make sure the person or persons appointed have copies with them and they understand your thoughts & wishes if something were to happen.

  3. Make sure that you can be contacted with multiple phone numbers, emails along with names and numbers of other people who know how to reach you.

  4. Make sure your child has a copy of their insurance card with them and give a copy to the family member or group leader.

Now you can be assured that if something happens, your child will be properly cared for.


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