Not every kind of guardianship functions the same way. Some have more powers than others and they each have different lengths of times for which those powers can be exercised. To help you sort out a few of these terms you’ve heard and understand how each works, we put together a little guide for you.

First we’ll look at how temporary guardianship works. We’ll consider when they are needed and how long they are likely to last. This will lead us into a discussion on emergency guardianships. Finally, we’ll also discuss the role that parents can play in selecting a guardian for their child.

When Would a Temporary Guardianship Be Needed and How Long Would It Last?

There are certain conditions that need to be met for a guardian to be appointed for a minor. First, the court must find that appointment of the guardian in question would be for the minor’s best interest. Next, both of the minor’s parents must either be deceased or have had all parental rights terminated by a court order.

Parents still may have some say in the appointment of a guardian, but we’ll be discussing that later. If the guardian being considered for the appointment turns down the role or the courts determined it wasn’t in the minor’s best interest to have that individual as a guardian, the courts may determine that there is an immediate need and will appoint another individual as guardian.

As the name implies, this is not a lasting guardianship but rather one that is meant to help out for a short period of time. A temporary guardian may only be appointed for a maximum of six months. During that six month period the temporary guardian would have all the authority of a permanent guardian (unless otherwise ordered by the court). Notice has to be given to the surviving parents, as well as to the minor themselves if they are at least fourteen years old.

What Is an Emergency Guardianship and How Long Does It Last?

The guardian that is chosen by the parents of the minor is always the courts’ preference. If that fails, the court looks to appoint a temporary guardian. Should they find that this would result in substantial harm to the minor’s health or safety and that no other person appears to have authority to act in the circumstances, then the court can appoint an emergency guardian for the minor.

This is a backup plan; as such, it functions quite a bit differently from permanent or temporary guardianships. An emergency guardian does not have the same kind of powers that other guardians do — they are limited to the powers as specified in the court order. An emergency guardian is always temporary, with a maximum term of thirty days.

A reasonable notice of the time and place of the hearing for the emergency guardianship must be given to the minor if they are fourteen or older, as well as their parents or a person having care or custody of the minor, if other than a parent. Because of the emergency nature of this appointment, it is possible for the court to dispense with the need to give notice if it finds that the minor would be substantially harmed by any delay. When this happens, notice is required within forty-eight hours after the appointment of the guardian. A hearing on the appropriateness of the appointment would then be held within five days.

Can I Appoint a Guardian For My Child?

When a guardian is nominated by a parent, (as required under Minnesota Statutes section 524.5-202), the court will give that nominate individual the first priority for appointment. This assumes, of course, that the nominated individual has not been prevented from serving as discussed in section 524.5-203 of the statutes.

The appointing parent, if surviving, would petition the court and if the court finds that the appointing parent will be unlikely to care for the child within two years, the court may confirm the selection of guardian and terminate the rights of others to object. Alternatively, a guardianship appointment by a parent’s will document would become effective upon the appointing parents death or incapacitation, at which the guardian has thirty days to file an acceptance of the appointment.

If you have been appointed as a guardian but don’t feel like you are able to handle the responsibilities, note that you don’t have to file an acceptance of the appointment. You can refuse the nomination.

Do I Need an Attorney to Appoint a Guardian?

Guardians have a lot of responsibilities and it can feel like a big job. An attorney can assist you in making sure the right things are filed at the right time while giving you the peace of mind of knowing that you are and your ward are legally protected.