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  • Amy Privette

Who will "stand by" you? It matters to your minors.

Make sure you name a Standby Guardian for your minor children should you become temporarily unable to take care of them.

Most people only think of naming a guardian for their minor children in their Last Will and Testament. Yet, your Will only comes into play upon your death. Your Will does not cover you being incapacitated, disabled, or otherwise unable to take care of your kids. That's why having a Will is not enough.

As a parent, you also need to include a Designation of Standby Guardianship. This type of guardianship allows you to make advance legal arrangements for a temporary or “standby” guardian of your choosing to take care of your children in the event you become incapacitated or debilitated. Pre-planning is best, but you do have the ability for the standby guardianship to become effective immediately upon the signing of the legal document.

Solider standing at attention

In North Carolina, a Designation of Standby Guardianship is good for a maximum of 90 days. If it looks like a longer period of guardianship is needed, then the Standby Guardian would need to file a petition to be named the formal guardian of your children while you continue to recover.

Check mark in shield

Let's be clear, though. YOU are still the parent. Naming a Standby Guardian does not give away or relinquish any rights, responsibilities, or duties you have as a parent. Any authority granted to the Standby Guardian ends once you have recovered. In addition, you have the ability to revoke the standby guardianship at any time. In other words, the Standby Guardian serves as your leisure and is not someone who can usurp your rights.

Lady judge

If you fail to name a Standby Guardian and then become incapacitated in some way, no one would be able to step in and serve as your child's legal guardian until the Clerk is able to hold a hearing to appoint one. And where is your child during all the time it takes to get a hearing calendared, notice of the hearing sent out the required parties, hold the hearing, and give the judge time to make a decision? Foster care is a likely answer. Plus, as you can imagine, the judge would not have the advantage of knowing your preference of whom you would want to serve in that role. This is one situation where failure truly is not an option!

Deciding who will take care of your children if and when you can't is not a decision to be taken lightly. Let us help you navigate this issue and assist you with placing someone on standby -- in a good way -- for your kids. It represents a good and necessary step in planning for your future and the safe and well-being of your children!

Phone: (919) 678-5761


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