Have you ever thought about who would take care of your minor children if something were to happen to you? In Virginia, parents can name a standby guardian to step in as a parent if needed. Virginia’s statute clarifies that the guardian only steps in when a certain triggering event has occurred, such as incapacity, deportation, incarceration, debilitation, or death. In the case of death, the standby guardian would care for the children until their new, permanent guardian steps in.
A standby guardian designation is simple to implement. The parent simply needs to execute a document that states the name, address, and birthdate of the child affected as well as the triggering event which must occur for the guardian to step in. The document must also provide the name and address of the person who is designated as standby guardian. The document may also name an alternate if the first choice is unavailable. The document does not need to be notarized or witnessed.
To take effect, the triggering event must have occurred, and the standby guardian must present the document to a court. The court then enters an order approving the designating guardian (unless the court finds that the standby guardian is incompetent, or that the designation is not in the best interests of the minor child). In the case of incapacity, debilitation, or death, the standby guardian must also present documents that demonstrate that the triggering event has occurred.
A standby guardian has full authority as guardian of the child unless the designation form states otherwise. Parents may execute a standby guardian designation and then change the designation at any time by executing a subsequent, inconsistent designation.
A standby guardian designation can be a very helpful part of a comprehensive estate plan for parents of minor children. This is an often-forgotten document that serves an important purpose.
Mathews Law includes a standby guardian designation document with every estate plan for parents of minor children! To set up a free consultation, please click here or call 866-980-0838.