Find the right lawyer now

Temporary Guardianship Laws

Find a Local Family Lawyer near You

What Is a Temporary Guardianship?

A temporary guardianship is a type of guardianship that exists for a specific purpose, and for a limited period of time.  During the specified time period, a temporary guardian is appointed for the purpose of handling another person’s personal, financial, health, and property matters.  The guardian may be appointed by the court or may be named by the person whom the guardian is acting on behalf of.
Temporary guardianships are different from a normal guardianship, as normal guardianships will usually last indefinitely.  A temporary guardianship automatically terminates once its purpose has been fulfilled.

Why Are Temporary Guardianships Formed?

Temporary guardianships may be formed for various purposes:

  • Incapacitation: The individual in question has become incapacitated to the point where they can no longer make legal decisions on their own.
  • Substitution:  A temporary guardianship may be formed if a person’s normal guardian will be unavailable for a period of time, for example, if a child’s guardian will be leaving the country for an extended period of time.
  • Emergency:  A temporary guardian may be appointed in emergency situations where the person represented does not have time to appoint a normal guardian. Temporary guardianships are sometimes called “emergency guardianships,” but a temporary guardianship does not always need to involve an emergency situation.

In some jurisdictions, a temporary guardian is only appointed if it can be shown that the estate holder is at risk of serious harm or even death.  Also, some states require proof that no other person is available to make decisions on behalf of the incapacitated party.

How Long Do Temporary Guardianships Last?

State statutes will usually set the time period for court-appointed temporary guardianships.  In most cases the temporary guardianship lasts up to 60 days.  However, the time length of a temporary guardianship will usually vary depending on the case, especially in instances where the person is severely incapacitated.

If the person had appointed a guardian in a document such as a living will or a power of attorney document, they may choose to set the time period in the document itself.  Of course, such time limitations must be reasonable and realistic in order to anticipate any changes.

In general, a temporary guardianship will usually last only as long as it takes for the guardian to accomplish a specific purpose.  For example, suppose that the temporary guardian was appointed for the sole purpose of filing the person’s tax information.  Once this task has been accomplished, the temporary guardianship will end and a new one must be formed for any new tasks.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Temporary Guardianship Matters?

If you have any concerns regarding a temporary guardianship, you may wish to consult a family law lawyer for advice.  For example, if a temporary guardian has not followed the instructions of a loved one, you may wish to file a legal claim on their behalf.  Additionally, a lawyer can help you draft a document for appointing a temporary guardian, so that you can be prepared in the even that you become incapacitated.

Photo of page author Gabrielle Hollingsworth

, LegalMatch Legal Writer and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 02-22-2018 10:30 PM PST

Law Library Disclaimer
  • No fee to present your case
  • Choose from lawyers in your area
  • A 100% confidential service
What is LegalMatch?

We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.