What is the difference between a guardian and a standby guardian? You may have heard of both of these things and wonder, “How does a standby guardian differ from the guardian you appoint for your children in your will?” I’m estate planning and probate attorney Sarah Siedentopf, and if you’ve got questions about this, please do give me a call.
In general, the guardian you appoint in your will only comes into place after you’ve passed away. That’s when your will is probated and the things that you have said in your will happen. Now, if something happens to you during your lifetime and you’re in the hospital, or out of the country, or otherwise unable to take care of your children, but you’re still alive, the standby guardian can come in legally and take care of them. So a designation of standby guardian is a separate document that is effective only during your lifetime, and the people that you designate may be different.
I recently had a conversation with someone who was talking about the fact that the guardian that they had in mind for their children lives in California. Of course, this is not a problem. But, for the standby guardian, the person that you want to be able to get there quickly if something happens, living several states away is an issue. So, they needed to think about naming a friend, naming a neighbor, naming a closer living relative.
So, the difference between the guardian and the standby guardian is basically that one is effective after you’ve passed away and the other one is effective if something happens to you, but you’re still alive. Both of these are very important for making sure that your children are taken care of. So if you’ve got questions, maybe want to designate a standby guardian, please give me a call. Also, I welcome your comments. Thank you.
To learn more about standby guardians, you can read our blog How to Protect Your Children with a Standby Guardian.