While this is an extreme example, something easy parents can do is put together an emergency family preparedness plan. Check out the file link below for a plan that you can print out, fill out, and keep accessible in case of emergency. Something else a parent can do is prepare a written nomination for a local temporary guardian. This nomination can be in your will, and it will easily allow a relative (or whoever you choose, like a neighbor) to take care of your child in the event the primary guardian is not yet present. Having something like this prepared before it’s needed can help bring some structure to an already hard situation.
Another step parents can take is to sign a Power of Attorney for a Minor Child in front of a notary. This would allow parents to name someone to take care of the child and make decisions regarding their education and medical care in the event a parent is unable to. The person chosen for this role should have the child’s health insurance information. If they wanted to add the child to their own health insurance, they might need a court-ordered guardianship. Also, all of this would only be recognized in the county, and would only be valid on a short-term basis. So, fully preparing a guardianship in your estate plan is probably the more thorough route.
Something else you can prepare on your own is a caregiver's authorization affidavit. It allows someone to “authorize enrollment of a minor in school and authorize school-related medical care.” If the caregiver is a relative, filling out the second section also allows them to authorize any other medical care. With this form, the court doesn’t have to get involved. A drawback, however, is that schools and medical providers might refuse to honor it. Although the caregiver could sue in that situation, it could be a costly and lengthy process. Thus, choosing someone local as a temporary guardian before something happens is the best way to go.
I want to thank Kristine Anderson, Esq., one of our very own attorneys here at ADK Heritage Law, for suggesting I look into this topic and for providing me with the resources I used to write this. Thanks for reading!