letter of guardianship (meaning, rationale & example)

This post covers the letter of guardianship

In general, guardianship is a legally binding relationship in which one party (referred to as the “guardian”) takes on the legal obligation of caring for and protecting another party (referred to as the “ward”).

That relationship is duly created with a legal instrument called a guardianship letter.

Here I will tell you everything you need to know about the letter of guardianship, precisely, I will cover;

  • What is a letter of guardianship
  • why a letter of guardianship is important
  • Types of letter of guardianship
  • when do you need a letter of guardianship
  • contents of the letter of guardianship
  • How do you write a letter of guardianship
  • letter of guardianship example/template
  • alternatives to Letters of guardianship
  • etc.

Let’s get started

What is a letter of guardianship?

A letter of guardianship is a legal document that allows someone to transfer guardianship rights to another person. This document acknowledges guardians’ authority when it comes to making decisions on behalf of someone else specifically minors and in some rare cases an adult who has been incapacitated to ct on his behalf due to diseases or any other reasons.

With Letters of Guardianship in hand, you’ll be able to present it to numerous institutions and claim that your acts are in the best interests of the individual. This could be sent to hospitals, schools, federal agencies, realtors (for any housing needs), and other places where decisions on behalf of the individual must be made.

For example, if your child is going on vacation with someone else (her teacher, relatives, etc) you may write a letter of guardianship to confer the guardianship rights to that teacher or relative to act for your child in your absence for the whole vacation time.

I have covered a sample of the letter of guardianship on vacation here, if you are interested you may take a look.

Types of letter of guardianship

There are two types of letters of guardianship; a permanent/long-term letter of guardianship and a Temporary letter of guardianship.

Permanent letter of guardianship

A permanent letter of guardianship is a type of guardianship letter which confer the guardianship rights to someone permanently until the subject is legally capable to act on his behalf i.e if he is a minor, he attained the majority age,  or if he was incapacitated to act due to disease until he recovers or he dies (ooh sorry!).

This type of guardianship is usually obtained through court processes and it is commonly applied when a minor’s both parents are deceased or the parental rights of any living parent have been terminated by a court and the minor has no natural guardian, testamentary guardian, or permanent guardian.

Each state has its legal processes through which a person may be granted a letter of guardianship.

For example in Georgia to begin the process, a petition must be filed in probate court seeking guardianship of the child by the person who wishes to be named guardian. (source)

Also in California To become a guardian, you must file papers with the court and go through several steps leading up to a court hearing. (source)

So I advise you to look for the relevant laws in your state before engaging yourself in guardianship processes.

Temporary letter of guardianship

A temporary letter of guardianship is a concise statement of facts written by a parent to temporarily transfer or confer guardianship rights over his or her children to another adult (a guardian) who is capable of caring for them while he or she is absent.

A temporary letter of guardianship is always necessary when;

  • you plan to let your children travel with other people
  • when you have a work trip (see sample)
  • When you are going through divorce proceedings,
  • When you are in medical treatment
  • When you are going to jail
  • When you want to ensure your children are looked after in case of your death (see sample)
  • etc.

Why do you need a temporary letter of guardianship?

You need a temporary letter of guardianship to ensure that your child is adequately cared for, while you are away.

If your child becomes unwell or requires medical attention while you are away, he will not be able to receive treatment unless there is a valid letter of guardianship from you.

Medical treatment for minors is becoming increasingly selective in hospitals and clinics, they may usually refuse to treat them unless you are present.

A temporary letter of guardianship can safeguard both you and the child while also allowing your child to obtain the care he requires, in your absence. To be more effective, the letter should state what the named guardian may and cannot do for your child’s best interests.

How do you write a temporary letter of guardianship?

A temporary letter of guardianship takes the business letter format, simply start by writing your address and contact information, then add a date and the recipient’s address, and write the heading to reflect that it’s a guardianship letter (you should include the name of your child in the heading), salute the addressee, and explain that you’re writing to grant guardianship to [mention the name and the reasons] for a specified period. At the bottom of the letter, write your name and signature.

Though a temporary letter of guardianship is written in business letter format, it is a legal document that binds all parties.- the grantor (you), the guardian, and the ward.

The guardianship letter should be properly crafted, with special emphasis paid to the conditions and specifics of the arrangement.

The Important information to  be included in a well-written guardianship letter includes

Your address

The first thing on your guardianship letter is your address.

Keep it in the upper left corner of the letter.

To keep it professional, you can use a heading letter.

Your full profile must be displayed, including your name, postal address, and physical address. Include your phone number and email address if needed.

If you’re writing this letter with your spouse, make sure the address includes both of your names.

for example

John & Johan Kaine
1oo, City Avenue
Frisco, TX 75005

Date

A date must be included in the letter of guardianship,

Put a date below your address.

for example

John & Johan Kaine
1oo, City Avenue
Frisco, TX 75005

01, January 2030

Recipient’s address

Write the address of the recipient after the date.

The recipient’s name, as well as the institution’s postal and physical addresses, must be included in the address.

If the recipient’s name and address are unknown, simply write “to whom it may concern.”

for example

Bob and Jane Brown
103 Downtown Drive
Rowlette, TX 75038

or

To whom it may concern

Subject/heading

Write the subject of your letter beneath the recipient’s address.

The name of the minor must be included in the subject line of your letter for clarity.

for example

Re: Guardianship of My minor children, [Name all children]

or

Re: Temporary Guardianship of My minor children, [Name all children] for vacation

Salutation

The finest method to show respect to the receiver is to salute them.

The salutation can be put before or after the letter’s heading.

Apart from standard salutations such as Dear/Sir/Madame, you can utilize the recipient’s name or position as a salutation, such as Dear School Director, Dear Michael, and so on.

Here’s where you may learn more about modern greetings.

If you are writing to ‘to whom it may concern’, you may skip this part and move to the next step.

Opening paragraph/introduction

The words must be properly defined in the opening paragraph. It should begin with all of the parties involved’s names. It must state the start and termination dates of the guardianship.

for example

John and Johan Kaine grant temporary guardianship of our son, Thomas Kaine, to his grandparents, Bob and Jane Brown, from January 5, 2030, until April 21, 2030 as we will be in Norway for a business trip. This letter will serve as a legal and enforceable document, allowing them to seek medical treatment and make any necessary decisions about our child’s needs during this time.

Body paragraphs

The body paragraphs of your letter of guardianship must provide the address of where you will stay on your trip plus your contact information.

It is also a good idea to include the child’s pediatrician’s name and the dentist and give them a copy of your letter.

for example

The address of the hotel where we will be staying in Norway is Hotellvegen 31, 3000 Dalen, Norway. The phone number is +47 35 07 90 22. Take into note that Dalen is 8 hours ahead of Rowlette, Texas while contacting.

Thomas’s doctor is Timothy George, a physician at North Texas Medical Clinic. Their phone number is +1 (987) 000-1001. Thomas’s dentist is Dr. Thomas Muller of Highland Oak Dental, and his phone number is +1 (198) 111-1001. (They are served with a copy of this letter)

Closing paragraph

You may close your letter by emphasizing its purpose and leaving your name and signature.

If you are writing your letter jointly with your spouse both of your signatures must be included.

for example

We will be unable to provide medical treatment or care to our child’s needs during this time. In good faith, we grant Bob and Jane Brown temporary guardianship so that they can make decisions about our child’s care.

Sincerely,

John Kaine                                        Johan Kaine
[​Signature​]                                           [​Signature​]

Notary Section

This section is dedicated to a notary public to certify the letter and put his/her seal.

it looks like this

On [Date], [Your Name] appeared before me, [Notaries Name], Notary Public, personally appeared before me and proved to me based on satisfactory evidence to the person(s) whose name(s) is/are subscribed to be within this instrument and acknowledge to me that he/she/they executed this document in his/her/their authorized capacities and by their signatures on this instrument the person(s), executed this instrument.

I certify under penalty of perjury under the laws of in the state of [Name of State] that the foregoing paragraphs are true and correct.

[provide space for Notary Seal]

[Signature]

[Print Name]

Comply with the legal requirements of your state

At the end of the day, the letter of guardianship that you have writing must serve its purpose, and to do so your letter must comply with all laws that govern it.

Therefore I advise you to research the applicable state law before writing the letter, as not all states recognize such letters, in case it is recognized make sure you understand and abide by all letter of guardianship legal requirements.

Some states will require a notarized Letter of Guardianship, while others would demand that the letters be approved by the court. Other states may allow guardianship letters, but their laws may impose a deadline for drafting them before they become effective (e.g., the letter must be written 6 months prior before it goes into effect). Some states, for example, prefer guardianship agreements instead of guardianship letter

letter of guardianship template

Your Name
Your Address
City, State, Zip Code

DATE

Guardian’s Name
Guardian’s Address
City, State, Zip Code

RE: Temporary Guardianship of minor child, [Name of Child]

This letter is a legally binding document that I [your name]  gives [Name of Guardian] temporary guardianship of [Name of Child]. The guardianship will be in effect from [DATE] to [DATE].

During this period, we will be in [place] for [reason for being there] and will be unable to make decisions regarding our son’s medical treatment, thus [Name of Guardian]  will have the authority to make any medical care or permission decisions that the child requires.

Please contact us at [Hotel Address], [Hotel Phone Number], or [Email Address].

The child’s doctor’s name is [Name of Doctor], and her phone number is [Phone Number]. The child’s dentist’s name is [Name of Dentist], and his phone number is [Phone Number]. This letter will be sent to both doctors.

Sincerely,

Signature
Your Name

Letter of guardianship example

James Allison
345 Hopefully Street
Frisco, TX 75035

01, January 2030

ABC College
International Student Office
28000 ABC Parkway
Collage, CA 92000

Re: ​Guardianship of Jane Anderson

I, James Allison of the above-mentioned address, will be the legal guardian of your student Jane Anderson throughout his or her time at ABC College.

This student will live with me and be in my care until he or she reaches the age of majority in the United States, which is 18 years old.

I will take full legal responsibility for this pupil. I also authorize the ABC College Health Center to conduct the required tuberculosis examination and, if necessary, an x-ray examination.

Sincerely

Signature

Isack Smith

On [Date], James Allison, appeared before me, [Notaries Name], Notary Public, personally appeared before me and proved to me based on satisfactory evidence to the person(s) whose name(s) is subscribed to be within this instrument and acknowledge to me that he executed this document in his authorized capacities and by his signatures on this instrument the person(s), executed this instrument.

I certify under penalty of perjury under the laws of in the state of [Name of State] that the foregoing paragraphs are true and correct.

[Notary Seal]

[Signature]

[Print Name]

Letter of guardianship example

Letter of guardianship granted by the court

As I talked about this earlier in this post, there are letters of guardianship (permanent letters) that passes through court processes.

Once the process is done, finally court will grant and issue a letter of guardianship.

In most states, this letter is in form format, and it looks like this;

letters of guardianship California
Sample letters of guardianship in California, check the full form here
letter of guardianship Michigan
letter of guardianship Michigan, check the full form here

When does a Letter of guardianship not required?

Guardianship is only used as a last option, especially if it is not for a minor.

If you’ve been advised you need guardianship by someone or a government agency, it’s better to find out why since, there may be another method to lawfully act on someone else’s behalf without a letter of guardianship

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a also legal document that allows one person to act on behalf of another.

Thus if you understand what you are doing, you may provide the power of attorney, instead of letters of guardianship.

The only limitation of this alternative is that a power of attorney can only be created by someone who knows and understands what they are signing, a person who is mentally incapacitated cannot create one.

This post covers everything you need to know about powers of attorney, you may read it and see if this is the best alternative for you

Social Security

Regardless of incapacity, the Social Security Administration (SSA) enables benefits to be delivered to a person’s representative payee.

In this case, guardianship is not required.

Public Benefits

A family member can act as an incapacitated person’s authorized representative to obtain food stamps, TANF, and Medicaid for that individual.

Emergencies

If the individual in the hospital or facility is unable to communicate, a family member can make decisions for them.

Isack Kimaro

Editor-in-chief and founder of sherianajamii.com. Holder of Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) and Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. Lawyer by profession and blogger by passion.

Recent Content