Standby Guardianship - Wisconsin

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Who Can Nominate a Standby Guardian

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.978

A parent who is at significant risk of incapacity, debilitation, or death within 2 years may petition the court to appoint a standby guardian.

How to Establish a Standby Guardian

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.978

A proceeding for the appointment of a standby guardian shall be initiated by a petition that shall include the following:

  • The name, birth date, and address of the child
  • The names and addresses of the child's parent or parents, guardian, and legal custodian
  • The name and address of the person nominated as standby guardian
  • The proposed triggering event
  • A statement that there is a significant risk that the petitioner will become incapacitated or debilitated or die, as applicable, within 2 years after the date on which the petition is filed and the factual basis for that statement

Notice of the hearing must be served on the child if the child is age 12 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 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 who are age 18 or older, neither of which may be the standby guardian, and by the standby guardian. An optional form is provided in the statute.

How Standby Authority is Activated

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.978

The authority of the standby guardian will commence upon the parent's death, incapacity, debilitation with consent, or written consent. The attending physician must document incapacity or debilitation.

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.

Involvement of the Noncustodial Parent

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.978

The other parent must join in the petition unless he or she refuses, cannot be located, or indicates an unwillingness to assume responsibility for the child. Reasonable diligence is required to locate the parent and serve notice.

Authority Relationship of the Parent and the Standby

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.978

The commencement of a guardianship does not divest the parent of any parental rights. The authority of the standby guardian is suspended upon a determination of the parent's recovery or remission.

Withdrawing Guardianship

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.978

If at any time before the guardianship begins the court finds that the determination of the court no longer applies, the court may rescind the guardianship order.

A person who is appointed as a standby guardian may, at any time before the guardianship begins, renounce that appointment by executing a written renunciation, filing the renunciation with the court, and notifying the petitioner in writing.

The petitioner may revoke a standby guardianship at any time after the guardianship has commenced by executing a written revocation, filing the written revocation with the court, and notifying the standby guardian in writing of the revocation. The court may rescind the guardianship order if the court determines that rescission is in the best interests of the child.

A parent who has made a written designation may, at any time before the filing of a petition, revoke it by executing a written revocation and notifying the standby guardian in writing, making a subsequent written designation, or verbally revoking the standby guardianship in the presence of two witnesses.

After a petition for confirmation of a written designation has been filed, but before the standby guardian has been judicially appointed, a parent who has created a standby guardianship by written designation may revoke it by filing a revocation with the court and notifying the standby guardian in writing of the revocation. The court may dismiss the petition and rescind the guardianship if the court determines that rescission is in the best interests of the child.