If you’re a parent living in Orange County or greater southern California with a minor child or children, it’s important that your estate plan includes arrangements for a temporary guardianship.

Why do I need a temporary guardianship?

A common and potentially disastrous misconception in estate planning is that naming guardians in your Will is what protects your minor children. While doing this is a necessary component of a comprehensive estate plan, your Will alone is not enough. It does nothing for you while you are still alive. This is because your Will only goes into effect at your death. Even if you do pass on or become permanently unable to care for your children, your Will is not effective until it is lodged with the appropriate court. It’s at that time the court will appoint a permanent guardian. As you can imagine, this takes time.


  • Your child needs immediate medical treatment

  • Your child needs to be enrolled in school

  • Both you and your spouse are incapacitated or worse

  • You are minor-parent of a minor

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But what happens to your children in the meantime? Or what happens if you need a temporary guardianship, but you haven't legally documented your specific intent? The short answer is local police authorities, Child Protective Services, Foster Care representatives and the court will arrange for the care of your children. Eventually, the court will assign a guardian ad litem to assess your child's best interests. Not an ideal result.

This problem should sound familiar. Comprehensive estate planning includes a Power of Attorney and an Advance Healthcare Directive, commonly known as incapacity planning. To provide specific directions in circumstances that we are either temporarily or permanently unable to make our own financial and medical decisions, we use a Durable Power of Attorney and Advance Healthcare Directive. These issues arise while you are still alive, and because of this, your Will alone does nothing. These ancillary documents are necessary.

The same goes for the temporary or permanent care of your minor children. Providing specific direction as to their care when you as the parent are not able to care for them, is vital to protecting your family from unnecessary third-party and/or court intervention. That's why we include our Kids First Plan™ anytime you create an estate plan with us. If you already have a plan, we can provide you with guardianship forms and a Temporary Power of Attorney for a Minor Child as stand-alone documents.

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We will handle your legal temporary guardianship forms.

Looking for a guardianship attorney in Orange County or greater southern California? We will handle your guardianship forms. When it comes to guardianships of the person, you should know there are generally two types: temporary guardianships and permanent guardianships. Only a court can appoint a permanent guardian. On the other hand, you can name a temporary guardian for your minor child in a Temporary Power of Attorney for a Minor Child.

You can also arrange for this temporary care with a Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit. You may also want to include important medical information in a separate document (regarding allergies and conditions, pediatrician information, health insurance information, immunization record, and medication). These are the documents you'll want your representatives to deliver to the appropriate parties at the time of your incapacity.


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 need the Power of Attorney for a Minor Child or a Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit depends on whether the person you want to care for your child is in California and the child will therefore remain in the state during your incapacity. For a greater understanding of these forms, visit our Resources. If you have time, please also read our series Estate Planning: What You Need to Know.

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We will deliver more than basic temporary guardianship paperwork.

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.

Get a Power of Attorney for Minor Child →

We've got your California temporary guardianship covered.

Our Kids First Plan™ helps ensure that your children are cared for during your incapacity and are never turned over to Child Protective Services or Foster care. The documents included will work in concert with your Will and any other documents you have in your estate plan. If you have children over the age of 18, you'll want to properly plan for their own incapacity. Keep this in mind and contact us if this is the case. If you already have an estate plan, but it doesn't address this specific issue, we're happy to help.

...arrange for temporary care of your children during incapacity and notify the appropriate parties.
— The Schlau|Rogers Team

With our simple process and approach, we're able to offer robust estate planning solutions that prioritize your family's security and peace of mind. Together, we can address issues related to guardianships and create a comprehensive strategy to ensure your'e able to achieve your goals.


Where can I find guardianship attorney near me? Get in touch.

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