Under Kansas law, a person can become a temporary guardian of a minor child by filing a petition in probate court. A guardian is a person that the court appoints to act on behalf of a minor or impaired person, called a ward. A guardian ensures that the ward’s personal health, safety and welfare are secure.
Different From a Conservator
A conservator is also a person appointed by a court to act on behalf of a minor, impaired person or person who has voluntarily requested a conservatorship. The person who has a conservator is called the conservatee. The conservator manages the conservatee’s property or estate, which can include money, personal property and real property.
A person can be appointed as both a guardian and a conservator. If this is true, the person for whom they are acting is called a ward, a conservatee, or both.
Petition for Appointment of Legal Guardian
A petition for a temporary guardian or temporary conservator should include:
- Petitioner's name and address.
- Proposed ward's or conservatee's name, age, date of birth, address of permanent residence and present address or whereabouts, if different from permanent residence.
- Statement that it is the belief of the petitioner that there is an imminent danger to the physical health or safety of the proposed ward requiring immediate action to be taken to protect them, or that there is an imminent danger that the estate of the proposed conservatee will be significantly depleted unless immediate action is taken to protect the estate, or both.
- Factual basis upon which the petitioner alleges the imminent danger.
- Names and addresses of witnesses who can testify to the truth of the petition.
- Name, address and relationship to the proposed ward or conservatee of the individual or corporation whom the petitioner suggests that the court appoint as the temporary guardian or temporary conservator, or both.
- Whether the proposed temporary guardian or temporary conservator is under contract with the Kansas guardianship program.
- Request that the court make an ex parte, or out-of-court determination that there exists an imminent danger and that the court should appoint a temporary guardian or a temporary conservator, or both, with powers the court deems necessary to protect the proposed ward or the estate of the proposed conservatee.
Scheduling a Court Hearing
After the petitioner has filed the petition, the court holds a trial on the petition before a judge or jury. If a jury is chosen, it will be composed of six people. The standard for the determination of guardianship is whether the petitioner can show by clear and convincing evidence that the ward needs a guardian.
Who Can Be a Guardian in the State of Kansas?
A proposed guardian must be at least 18 years old and a fit and proper, or suitable, person or entity to take on the responsibility. The court may investigate the history and character of a nominee. The court shall consider the workload, capabilities and potential conflicts of interest of a proposed guardian before appointing the guardian.
A corporation may be appointed as a guardian, or a family member such as a grandparent, sibling, aunt or uncle may be appointed.
What a Guardian Does
A guardian is expected to carry out acts to diligently supervise and protect the ward in good faith. Guardians are subject to the control and direction of the court and must act in accordance with a guardianship plan that has been filed with the court.
The guardian must become and remain personally acquainted with the ward and those associated with the ward who know about the ward’s needs and responsibilities.
The guardian must encourage the ward to act on their own behalf. A guardian may collect a reasonable fee approved by the court for carrying out their duties and responsibilities as guardian. A guardian associated with the Kansas guardianship program may receive a stipend from that program.
Court Review of Legal Guardianship
A guardian ad litem is an advocate appointed by the court to determine what is in the best interests of a minor child. One of the duties of a guardian ad litem is to write an annual report on the condition of the ward.
When the guardian ad litem files a guardian report, the court reviews that report, any prior orders in the case, the guardianship plan, and previous reports. The court determines whether the most recent report shows a reasonable administration of the guardianship.
Court Hearings for Annual Reports
After the guardian report is filed, the court sets a hearing on the matter. Certain circumstances may trigger a special report, such as a change in residence of the ward, an accumulation of property by the ward which would cause the ward’s estate to exceed $10,000, or a change in circumstances of the guardian or ward that might constitute a conflict of interest.
When the guardianship ends, the guardian ad litem must write a final report on the guardianship.
Temporary Nature of Appointment
The goal of a temporary guardianship is to ensure that the ward has decisions made for them during the time the guardian is needed. A temporary guardian is not supposed to act on the ward’s behalf forever. A temporary guardianship is supposed to be minimally restrictive, so the guardian should encourage the ward to become self-sufficient.
How an Attorney Helps
A family law attorney can assist a grandparent or other relative with completing a petition for temporary guardianship. The attorney can explain what information to share in the petition and how to present themselves in court.
A family law attorney can also assist a parent to complete a power of attorney for a minor child form. Such a form allows a parent to appoint another individual as a temporary guardian for a limited period. The guardian will have the power to make medical care and educational decisions for the child.
How Temporary Guardianship Ends
A temporary guardianship does not end automatically. The court has the power to end all types of guardianships. The court may end a temporary guardianship when the ward turns 18, if there is no longer a need for a temporary guardian, or when the ward dies.
At any time, any individual including the ward can file a petition asking the court to end the guardianship. When the court ends a guardianship, it also enters an order to close the case.
- Kansas Revised Statutes: Section 59-3073
- Kansas Judicial Council: Basic Instructions for Guardians
- Kansas Revised Statutes: Section 59-3068
- Kansas Revised Statutes: Section 59-3075
- Kansas Revised Statutes: Section 59-3092
- Kansas Revised Statutes: Section 59-3083
- Kansas Judicial Council: Guardian's Annual or Final Report on Condition of Ward
- Kansas Revised Statutes: Section 59-3067
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.