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Wisconsin Standby Guardian Law

A parent who is at significant risk of incapacity, debilitation, or death within 2 years may petition the court to appoint a standby guardian.  The petition should contain the name of the proposed guardian along with the other required information, including the triggering events that would commence the guardianship, and a statement that there is significant risk.  The triggering events are to include all or some of the following: incapacity, debilitation plus consent, and death.  A parent may also designate a standby guardian for his or her child by means of a written designation signed by the parent in the presence of two witnesses.  The designation document should also contain the triggering event that would commence guardianship.

If the guardianship has prior court approval, the standby guardian has 90 days from the triggering event to file confirming documents.  If the guardianship is by written designation only, the standby guardian has 180 days from the triggering event to file confirming documents and petition for appointment.

The parent has concurrent authority with the standby guardian.  Guardianship does not divest the parent of any parental rights.  A parent can file suspend guardianship if s/he recovers  his/her health after the appointment of standby guardian has been made, by filing a physician’s determination to that effect with the court.  A parent can also revoke the guardianship in a writing filed with the court.  A non-custodial parent who is willing and able to exercise guardianship duties will have preference over a guardian.

After the filing of the petition, notice of the hearing must be served on the child if the child is 12 years of age or older, and the child’s guardian, guardian ad litem, counsel, and other parent, if that parent has not joined in the petition and if that parent can with reasonable diligence be located.  At the hearing, the court may approve the appointment of the standby guardian if it is found to be in the best interests of the child.

A standby guardian may at any time before the guardianship begins, renounce that appointment by filing a written renunciation with the court, and notifying the petitioner in writing.  A parent who has made a written designation may, revoke it at any time before the filing of a petition

  • by executing a written revocation and notifying the standby guardian in writing,
  • by making a subsequent written designation, or
  • verbally revoking the standby guardianship in the presence of two witnesses.

Inside Wisconsin Standby Guardian Law