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Pennsylvania Standby Guardian law

Under Pennsylvania law, a standby guardian can be designated by someone if s/he encounters some unforeseen circumstance other than death.  The Standby Guardianship Act, sets out a process by which a parent or guardian can designate a standby guardian for his or her children upon the occurrence of a triggering event.  “Triggering event” is a “specified occurrence which empowers a standby guardian to assume the powers, duties and responsibilities of guardian or co-guardian.”   It might be “death,” “incapacity,” or “absence from Pennsylvania for more than two weeks.”  The commencement of a standby guardian’s authority cannot by itself divest a parent of any parental rights or obligations.

A standby guardian for a minor can be designated by a custodial parent, a legal custodian or legal guardian by a written designation unless the minor has another parent or adoptive parent whose parental rights have not been terminated or relinquished; whose whereabouts are known; or who is willing and able to make and carry out the day-to-day child-care decisions concerning the minor.  The Pennsylvania standby guardianship laws cannot be used by one parent to circumvent the legal rights of the other parent even if the parent with primary physical custody of the children wants to designate a standby guardian other than the non-custodial parent.  A standby guardian can be designated by signing a designation by the designating parent, legal custodian or legal guardian in the presence of two witnesses who are 18 years of age or older and not otherwise named in the designation, who must also sign the designation.

Upon occurrence of the triggering event, the standby guardian will have the authority to act as guardian for the children for sixty days and must file a petition with the court to have the guardianship confirmed within that time, if necessary.  The standby guardian can also be “pre-approved,” if the parent or guardian petitions the court, even before the triggering event, so that upon the occurrence of the event the standby guardian does not again have to petition the court for his or her authority to last beyond sixty days.  If the parent who made the designation regains his or her capacity, the powers of such standby guardian could be automatically taken away by law.  Standby guardianship can be revoked by the designator before or after the standby guardian files a petition to have the guardianship confirmed.

Standby guardianship laws allow for the quick and easy transition of authority from a parent to a guardian if the parent becomes unable to care for his or her child.


Inside Pennsylvania Standby Guardian law