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What is testamentary and temporary guardianship?

There are many different situations in which an individual may find themselves contemplating guardianship of an adult with disabilities or minor child. While these arrangements are typically made by an attorney, it may be equally beneficial for families to understand the difference between testamentary and a temporary guardianship.

The purpose behind both testamentary and temporary guardianships is the same; they both provide an individual with a legal decision-maker while they are a minor or cognitively unable to care for themselves. However, testamentary guardianship is designated by parents in a will or through other estate planning tool. In the event a parent passes away, and their minor child or disabled child requires a guardian, the court will enforce the testamentary guardian requested by the parents.

If by chance, the parent's chosen guardian is unable, unfit or unwilling to fulfill their duty, a court may designate someone else. This alternate guardian can be considered temporary if their term as guardian is set for a limited amount of time or for a specific purpose. In the case of an emergency, a court may appoint a temporary guardian in order to grant approval for the minor or disabled adult to receive immediate emergency services.

The main difference between a testamentary and temporary guardianship is how they are appointed and how long they serve. A testamentary guardian is appointed by the minor's parents while a court typically appoints temporary guardianships. Likewise, a testamentary guardian will hold their appointed position indefinitely, while a temporary guardian is designated guardian only for a specific period of time.

There are few issues as important to parents as making sure that their children are provided for after they are gone. Designating a guardian for a minor or disabled child is a major decision that should be made with the help of an experienced legal professional.

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