Who Takes Care of Your Child Should Something Happen to You?

Parenthood!!! Is there any life event more emotional than giving birth (or adopting) a child? It’s joyous with an overwhelming sense of love.  Your new baby is really a gift from God that brings love and devotion. Holding, touching, watching, smelling, and playing with your child as he/she grows are the ingredients of life-long memories.

Becoming a parent is an exciting life event – but it is also a life changing experience. You may feel overwhelmed by a blend of physical, hormonal, and emotional changes while learning new tasks and skills of parenthood. Constant feeding, diapering, holding, and protecting can consume you. These immediate needs are the primary focus of any new parent.

But parenting is a long-term commitment. Good parenting requires you to remember the importance of protecting your child should something catastrophic happen to you. Nobody plans an accidental death – that’s why it’s called an accident. But accidents do happen, and good parenting requires you to protect your child with advanced legal preparation.

Advanced estate planning today can give you peace of mind – knowing that if something catastrophic were to happen to you, your child can be raised by a family member or close friend of your choosing. The Schaller Law Firm can give you peace of mind by drafting a “Standby Guardian” designation that identifies who you want to act as guardian and raise your child if you die prematurely or suffer a catastrophic accident.


A standby guardian designation is a legal arrangement that allows a parent or guardian to appoint someone as a standby guardian for their minor child in the event that the parent becomes unable to care for the child. Here are three important reasons why someone might need a standby guardian designation:

  1. Emergency or Unexpected Incapacity: Life is unpredictable, and there may be situations where a parent or legal guardian becomes temporarily or permanently unable to care for their child due to an unexpected event such as illness, accident, or incapacitation. By designating a standby guardian, the parent ensures that there is a trusted individual ready to assume the responsibilities of caregiving and decision-making for the child during the parent’s absence or incapacity. This ensures the child’s well-being and continuity of care in an emergency situation.
  2. Parent’s Peace of Mind: Having a standby guardian designation provides a parent or legal guardian with peace of mind, knowing that there is a designated person ready to step in and care for their child if necessary. This legal arrangement ensures that the child’s needs will continue to be met, and decisions will be made in their best interests even if the parent is unable to fulfill their caregiving responsibilities. It provides reassurance and a sense of security, particularly in situations where the parent may have concerns about their own health or safety.
  3. Planned Absence or Temporary Care: There may be instances when a parent or guardian knows in advance that they will be unavailable to care for their child for an extended period, such as military deployment, travel, or medical treatment. In such cases, a standby guardian designation allows the parent to legally designate someone to assume temporary guardianship and make decisions regarding the child’s education, healthcare, and general welfare during their absence. This provides stability and a legal framework for the child’s care during the planned absence.

It’s crucial to carefully consider and discuss the appointment of a standby guardian with the designated individual to ensure their willingness and ability to assume the responsibilities if the need arises.

Choosing Your Standby Guardian:

Ask yourself the following questions:

Who should raise your child? Your family? Your spouse’s family? Who would love and care for your child as you would? Who would protect your child as their own child?  Where would your child live? The answer to these questions will have a profound impact on your child’s life should you die prematurely.

Choosing a guardian is not only your parental duty, but it is a problem solver. If you cannot raise your child, you don’t want your surviving family members and in-law family members fighting over who should raise your child. You don’t want an epic court battle for custody of your child.

By drafting your “Standby Guardian” designation you get to nominate who you feel shares your values and who will do the best job raising your child. This is one of the most essential tasks any parent should do, and you should do it as soon as your child is born.

Understanding the Legal Process…

Contact attorney Bob Schaller to get started and discuss the many benefits of a standby guardian as part of a complete estate plan.

You select a “standby guardian” who you believe is the best person to care for your child should you die.  You also select a “successor standby guardian” to raise your child should the standby guardian be unwilling or unable to serve as guardian because of death, disability, etc.

The Schaller Law Firm drafts your “Designation of Standby Guardian” document for you to sign and have notarized. Two witnesses should watch you sign the designation document and sign the designation document themselves.

You keep your original “Designation of Standby Guardian” document in a safe place, like a lockable metal box or drawer in your home, safe-deposit box, or other place you store valuable papers and jewelry.  A copy can be retained by the Schaller Law Firm for safe keeping.

Your “Designation of Standby Guardian” document is given to the court for processing should you die prematurely. By properly executing this designation, you are naming the person that you want to be appointed as the standby guardian of your child. Signing the form does not appoint the standby guardian; to be appointed, a petition must be filed in and approved by the court.  755 ILCS 5/11-5.3(e). A standby guardian is someone who has been appointed by the court as the person who will act as guardian of your child after you die or suffer a catastrophic accident leaving you in an irreversible vegetative state.

Celebrate!  Sleep peacefully knowing you have provided legal protection for your child.

Complicated? You bet.

You should have an estate planning attorney on your side. Tap into Attorney Schaller’s 37+ years of legal experience. He wrote the book on client satisfaction.

FREE consultation!  Start protecting yourself and your family with a complete estate plan. Call to schedule your appointment, request an appointment through the Contact Us page, or book an appointment with the convenient online booking system.