In most families, parents are capable of looking after their children. But what if a parent can’t take care of their child because they are mentally or physically incapacitated? Or what if they struggle with substance abuse, are hospitalized or incarcerated, or have a history of neglectful or abusive behavior? And what about a situation where a child inherits significant property or assets outside a trust before turning 18, California’s age of majority?
In California, guardianships can be the answer. Guardianship is the legal process through which a court gives a person other than the parents the authority and responsibility to care for a child or to manage the child’s non-trust assets until they reach the age of majority.
Some families need emergency or temporary guardianships, while others require more long-term or permanent solutions. Courts can also supervise, change or terminate a guardianship when appropriate.
Guardianship is different from conservatorship, which is the process of securing protection for incapacitated adults. It’s also different from adoption, which permanently transfers parental rights to someone else. In many guardianship situations, parents can remain in their child’s life in some way, such as through visitation or other custody arrangements.
A guardian can be a relative or friend of the family. The court can also appoint a neutral, professional guardian––called a private fiduciary—to help the family navigate any hotly contested disputes around custody, visitation and complex wealth management.
While every family’s situation is unique, guardianship proceedings frequently require families to navigate deeply private and potentially painful situations, emotionally charged interpersonal dynamics, delicate negotiations, or complicated legal and court proceedings. Loeb & Loeb understands that navigating the sensitive issues arising from guardianship matters can be one of the hardest challenges a family faces.
For us, at the heart of all guardianship cases is one goal: ensuring the client has a safe and secure childhood and future.