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Home > Standby Guardianship – Planning For Your Child’s Future

Standby Guardianship – Planning For Your Child’s Future

July 14, 2016

 “Who will care for my children if I am unable to?”

That is perhaps the hardest question for a parent to answer. It can be particularly trying for parents who are facing a terminal illness or a progressive disability.

Pennsylvania law provides a specific guardianship available to parents and legal guardians facing such unknown futures – the Standby Guardianship. 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 5601 et seq. This guardianship allows parents and legal guardians to designate a standby guardian for a minor child, which takes effect only after a triggering event occurs. The triggering event, which must be specified by the parent or legal guardian, may include an event such as admission to the hospital for treatment, a period of disability or death.


Significantly, the Act provides that the occurrence of any triggering event, other than death, does not deprive or eliminate the parenting rights of the parent or legal guardian. Rather, such triggering event provides the standby guardian authority to act as co-guardian.

Prior to the enactment of the Standby Guardianship Act, the choices for such parents were limited, either requiring the parent to give up their rights prematurely or left gaps in the child’s care. The Standby Guardianship Act corrects these deficiencies.

The Standby Guardianship is available to parents and legal guardians if the child’s other parent is deceased, has had his or her parental rights terminated, is unwilling or unable to care for the child, or their whereabouts are unknown.

A Standby Guardianship may be a good solution for peace of mind of parents facing an unknown future.

The opinions expressed in this article are for general information purposes only and are not intended to provide specific legal advice or recommendations. If you require legal representation or have a general question about estate planning, the attorneys at MacElree Harvey would be happy to provide you with quality legal services.