What is Emergency Guardianship?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 21 January 2020
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Emergency guardianship is the temporary appointment by the court of someone to care for the interests of a person under legal age or an adult who is considered incompetent. As the name implies, this is a temporary guardianship awarded in emergency situations and is not permanent. In order for the court to approve an application for emergency guardianship, the prospective guardian has to make a good case for why the action is needed by detailing what harm is likely to be prevented by the appointment. The exact procedures for emergency guardianship cases vary widely depending on the court and country.

In basic law terminology, a minor is a person under legal age, while a ward may be either a child without a guardian or a mentally disabled adult. Such persons become a ward of the court and are represented by a court-appointed lawyer in emergency types of guardianship proceedings. Emergency guardianship of minors is awarded to temporary guardians in cases in which the biological parents have lost their natural guardian status due to death or the abandonment or abuse of the minor.


If the biological parents are alive, they are almost always considered the natural guardians of their child, unless they have been charged with abandonment or child abuse. When a parent dies without a will appointing a guardian for his or her minor children, the court has to make the decision on who will care for them. It will likely consider relatives first, but others may apply. A temporary or emergency guardianship may be awarded until a permanent guardian is decided and appointed by the court.

A court-appointed guardian will be legally entrusted with providing daily care for the ward as well as manage his or her property. In cases involving an adult requiring emergency guardianship, the "alleged incompetent's" specific medical problems must be detailed in the intended guardian's application to the court. The court has to be advised as to why the adult is incapable of making his or her own decisions.

An emergency guardianship application form typically begins with spaces for a full name, address and phone number to be filled in by the guardian applicant. Space to answer questions about the condition of the ward from the applicant's viewpoint is included. By filling out and submitting the completed form, the guardian applicant is said to be petitioning the court for emergency or temporary guardianship.

If the court approves the guardianship petition, it will issue a court order, a document that contains the judge's decision. The legal expectations and responsibilities of the emergency guardian to the ward will be outlined in the court order. In making its decision in emergency guardianship cases, the court considers the relationship between the ward and the potential guardian. The potential guardian is also evaluated for competency and character, as the court wants a person who will act in the best interest of the ward to provide responsible temporary care.


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Post 1

The hospital has to take emergency guardianship of my father, who has dementia, because I cannot afford to pay the remainder of his medicaid liability for lock down care. What happens to my power of attorney now?

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