If you’re looking to be appointed guardian of a minor or minor children in Orange County or greater southern California, it’s important that seek the advice of a guardianship attorney.
What is a permanent guardianship?
Guardianship is when a court orders someone other than the child’s parent to have custody of the child, manage the child's property (called "estate"), or both. A court will look to appoint a probate guardian of the person when a child is living with an adult who is not the child’s parent, and the adult needs a court order to make decisions on behalf of the child. Generally, these arrangements are made for children under 18, but in some case (special immigrant juveniles), the age can be extended to 21.
In probate guardianships, parents still have parental rights, which means they can ask for reasonable contact with the child, and the court can end a guardianship if the parents become able to take care of the child.
WHAT ARE COMMON SITUATIONS WHEN A PERMANENT GUARDIANSHIP IS NEEDED?
When one or both parents:
Have a serious physical or mental illness or drug/alcohol abuse problem;
Are in the military and have to go overseas;
Have to go to a rehab program or jail for a while;
Have a history of being abusive; or
Cannot take care of their child for some other reason.
The probate court can appoint a guardian of the person, a guardian of the estate, or both, depending on the needs of the ward (child under the court’s supervision).
Guardian of the Person
A guardian of the person is responsible for making sure that the ward has proper food, clothing, shelter, health care, and sometimes may need to make important medical choices for the ward. In a guardianship of the person, the guardian has the same responsibilities to care for the child as a parent would.
The guardian has full legal and physical custody of the ward and can make decisions as a parent would. The guardian is responsible for the child's care, including the child's food, clothing and shelter; safety and protection; physical and emotional growth; medical and dental care; and education and any special needs.
Guardian of the Estate
A conservator of the person is responsible for the ward’s finances including paying bills and collecting the conservatee’s income. If someone is a conservator of the person and later decides to attempt to be appointed as conservator of the estate, a new petition for conservatorship is required.
Becoming conservator of the person and/or estate requires petitioning the court. If you are already a conservator of the person, you are not automatically a conservator of the estate (and vice versa). Once appointed as either conservator of the person and/or conservator of the estate, the conservator has various duties and responsibilities that the court will make clear. These duties can be found here.
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We will handle your legal permanent guardianship forms.
Looking for a permanent guardianship attorney in Orange County or greater southern California? We will handle your guardianship forms. When it comes to permanent guardianships there are particular forms that must be filed with the court in order to get you on the right path. These include Petition for Appointment of Guardian of the Person, Petition for Appointment of Guardian of Minor, Guardianship Petition--Child Information Attachment, and Consent of Proposed Guardian, Nomination of Guardian, Consent to Appointment of Guardian and Waiver of Notice, among others.
There are also particular steps that need to be taken with respect to filing forms, providing notice and filing proof of notice, working with the court investigator, appearing at court hearings and filing status reports as directed. We will handle all of this for you in a full guardianship representation or unbundle items for you in a limited scope guardianship arrangement (subject to circumstances).
What is the difference between custody and guardianship?
Legal custody of a child refers to a court-granted right to make important, long-term life decisions on behalf of a child. Important, long-term decisions include choice of schooling, religious education, general and specific health care, adiscipline, and other life decisions. Guardianships can be temporary or permanent and they can pertain to the physical custody of a person or the management of their estate on their behalf.
Do I need a lawyer for an informal guardianship in California?
While you don't need a lawyer to create a guardianship in California, we recommend using one because guardianships can be tricky, you'll have to show up in court if you don't document correctly and . . . we're talking about your kids! You'll definitely need an attorney if you're looking to creat a permanent guardianship and your child has property with a lot of value, you live outside California, there are other legal issues involving your child (like adoption, custody in family court, juvenile charges), your the child has special needs (physically/emotionally/developmentally disabled) or your child is Native American (because federal laws apply). While you can also download some free temporary guardianship form on the internet, we don't recommend you do this because there is no way to tell it will be effective when the time comes. Sure, we're biased but think of it this way: people use financial advisors because they want strategic guidance with their investments and they use accountants because taxes can be confusing. In the same way, smart people use lawyers to design and draft estate plans because the law is confusing and the consequences of getting a plan wrong can have some serious repercussions.
Whether you’ll be better off with limited or full representation is a matter of understanding the differences between them and being cognizant of the risks and benefits. For a greater understanding of guardianships, visit our Resources. If you have time, please also read our series Estate Planning: What You Need to Know.
Smarter planning doesn't have to complicated.
We've got your California permanent guardianship covered.
Setting up a California permanent guardianship can take some time (about a year in California). It can be complex and difficult to work through on your own. Prior to asking the court to appoint a guardian, you should consider whether a guardianship is appropriate under the circumstances. Keep in mind, the court will potentially be appointing someone to care for the person and/or estate of a minor in all cases no matter how personal and important. The guardian essentially steps in the shoes of the minor’s parent. For this reason, the court takes very seriously the proposed appointment and the duties that follow appointment.
If you feel like a permanent guardianship is potentially in order, we can offer our simple process and approach, along with robust solutions that prioritize security and peace of mind. Together, we can address issues related to guardianships and create a comprehensive strategy to ensure the children at issue are taken care of. We will provide assistance with preparing and filing the initial petition(s), providing notice to relevant parties, working with the court investigator, appearing for and attending court hearings, and working through the guardianship if desired.
What are some alternatives to becoming a permanent guardian?
Sure our Kids First Plan™ allows you to arrange for temporary care of your children during incapacity. But what's most important is that your intent is communicated to the appropriate parties. We will assist you in notifying these important people and organizations. This will allow someone of your choosing to care for your children immediately upon your incapacity and comfort them in those hectic first hours. We'll include either a Power of Attorney for a Minor Child or Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit in your plan to make sure things are taken care of. We'll also include important medical information.
Where can I find a guardianship attorney near me? Get in touch.
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