A guardianship letter is a document that gives an adult child or other named individual permission to look after a minor and make decisions on the minor’s behalf while the parent is away from the home and unable to care for the minor child. Parents who will be away from a child for an extended period of time should write a guardianship letter to appoint a temporary caretaker for the child. A guardianship letter or affidavit of guardianship gives the named individual the right to temporarily look after the child and make decisions for the child’s physical and medical care, education and other necessities. The letter does not transfer permanent custody of the child to the guardian, nor does it require the drafting services of an attorney.
Format and Scope of the Guardianship Letter
A guardianship letter should be drafted according to basic business letter rules. The letter should be typed using left justification and single spacing, with extra space between the separate parts of the letter. Use a common font such as Times New Roman or Arial, in a 12 point font size. Each section should be separated by one or two lines of space.
The letter should begin with the sender’s mailing address at the top. The date the letter is written follows on a separate line. Since the guardianship letter is not intended to be mailed to a specific person, but rather kept on file until needed, the inside address (or recipient’s name and address block) may be omitted.
The next section is the reference or subject line, which should include text such as “Re: Temporary Guardianship of” followed by the full name of the minor child, or something similar. The salutation follows, and it may be styled: “To Whom It May Concern.”
Read More: How to Write Guardianship Letters
Statement of Consent and Scope of Authority
After the preamble, the body should state the full name and age of the minor child, followed by the full legal name and address of the person to whom the guardianship authority is to be granted. Next, the letter should outline the scope of the guardian’s decision-making authority over the minor child or children.
The scope of the granted guardianship authority can be broadly or narrowly stated. For example, the letter could grant the guardian the authority to make decisions for “all of the minor child’s educational, medical, dental, and recreational needs.” Alternatively, the grant could be more narrowly tailored, or it might even require advance consent from the parents before making specific decisions.
Term of Guardianship
Reasons for granting a temporary guardianship vary widely, and they can impact the length of the guardianship significantly. If the reason behind the need for transfer of care is the parent’s stay in an in-patient rehabilitation facility or other medical or psychological care unit, the term could be stated as “for the duration of my status as a patient at XYZ Clinic in (City, State).” However, that stay could vary significantly, depending on the circumstances.
Because the length of time of a temporary guardianship is often subject to variation and is sometimes difficult to pin down with precision ahead of time, many parents elect to omit the term of the guardianship in their guardianship letters. Instead, they may provide a clause terminating the guardianship “upon my return” or similar language to that effect.
Signing and Notarizing the Guardianship Letter
Following the body of the letter, the signature block should set forth the parent’s full name in typed text, followed by space sufficient for a full signature. However, the letter should be signed only in the presence of a notary. Notarizing the letter authenticates it in case a dispute or complication arises later.
Underneath the space for the parents’ signature, drop down a few lines; then type in the appropriate notary venue and statement language for your jurisdiction. These vary from state to state, so it’s important that you find out what your state requires of notaries to letters such as these before you have it signed. Leave enough space for the notary’s stamp and signature.
Once the letter is completed, print out the letter and take it, together with your state-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, to the notary’s office for formal execution. When the letter is signed and notarized, copies should be made for both the parent and the guardian.
Annie Sisk is a freelance writer who lives in upstate New York. She holds a B.A. in Speech from Catawba College and a J.D. from USC. She has written extensively for publications and websites in the business, management and legal fields.