Standby Guardianship - Tennessee

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Who Can Nominate a Standby Guardian

Citation: Ann. Code § 34-6-302

The parent or parents of a minor child may delegate to any adult person residing in this State temporary care giving authority regarding the child when hardship prevents the parent or parents from caring for the child.

How to Establish a Standby Guardian

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 34-6-302; 34-6-303

This authority may be delegated without the approval of a court by executing in writing a power of attorney for care of a minor child on a form provided by the Department of Children's Services. Hardships may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The serious illness or incarceration of a parent or legal guardian
  • The physical or mental condition of the parent or legal guardian or the child is such that care and supervision of the child cannot be provided
  • The loss or uninhabitability of the child's home as the result of a natural disaster

The power of attorney for care of the minor child shall be signed by the parent and acknowledged before a notary public or two witnesses who shall sign and date their signatures in each other's presence.

The instrument providing for the power of attorney shall be executed by both parents, if both parents are living and have legal custody of the minor child, and shall state with specificity the details of the hardship preventing the parent from caring for the child.

How Standby Authority is Activated

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Involvement of the Noncustodial Parent

Citation: Ann. Code § 34-6-303

If only one parent has legal custody of the minor child, then that parent shall execute the instrument. The other parent must consent in writing to the appointment in the instrument, or the executing parent shall explain in the instrument why the consent cannot be obtained. If both parents do not execute the affidavit, then the executing parent shall send a copy of the instrument to the other parent by certified mail, return receipt requested, at the last known address of the other parent.

Authority Relationship of the Parent and the Standby

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 34-6-304; 34-6-305; 34-6-307

Through the power of attorney for care of a minor child, the parent may authorize the caregiver to perform the following functions without limitation:

  • Enroll the child in school and extracurricular activities
  • Obtain medical, dental, and mental health treatment for the child
  • Provide for the child's food, lodging, housing, recreation, and travel

Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the power of the parent to grant additional powers to the caregiver.

Except where limited by Federal law, the caregiver shall be assigned the rights, duties, and responsibilities that would otherwise be assigned to the parent, legal guardian, or legal custodian.

The power of attorney does not provide legal custody to the caregiver. If at any time the parent or legal guardian disagrees with the decision of the caregiver or chooses to make any health-care or educational decisions for the child, the parent must revoke the power of attorney and provide the health-care provider and local education agency either written documentation of the revocation or a court order appointing a legal guardian or legal custodian.

The decision of a caregiver to consent to or to refuse medical, dental, or mental health care for a child shall be superseded by any contravening decision of the parent having legal custody of the child as long as the decision of the parent does not jeopardize the life, health, or safety of the child. If at any time the parent or legal guardian disagrees with the decision of the caregiver or chooses to make any health-care decisions for the child, then the parent must revoke the power of attorney for care of a minor child and provide the health-care provider with written documentation of the revocation.

Withdrawing Guardianship

Citation: Ann. Code § 34-6-306

The power of attorney for care of a minor child may be terminated by an instrument in writing signed by either parent with legal custody. The power of attorney for care of a minor child may also be terminated by any order of a court of competent jurisdiction that appoints a legal guardian or legal custodian.