A successor guardian is a person appointed by the court to act as a legal guardian when the initially appointed guardian either dies, is removed by court order, or resigns. A court will appoint the successor guardian through the same process, and subject to the same requirements, as the original appointment of a guardian.
Successor Guardian Qualifications
In order to qualify as a guardian, either as the originally appointed or successor guardian, an individual must be (1) at least eighteen (18) years old, (2) an Arkansas resident, (3) of sound mind, and (4) not a convicted and unpardoned felon. If the prospective guardian is a convicted and unpardoned felon, he/she could still qualify as a guardian if the court enters written findings that, notwithstanding the felony conviction, the individual is otherwise qualified.
Successor Guardian Preference
Arkansas law provides a general order of preference for the appointment of guardians. As a general rule, the parents of a minor child, either together or individually, are preferred over all others for appointment as guardian of that child. If the parents of the child cannot serve as guardian, courts will look at several different factors when determining who is most suitable to serve as a guardian for a minor. First, courts will look to requests contained in a parent’s will for the appointment of a guardian of their child. This means that a parent with a minor child can include their preference for a specific person to be appointed as guardian of the child in their will. Second, courts will consider the child’s preference in who he/she wants to be appointed as guardian, if the child is fourteen (14) years of age or older. Third, the courts will look at the relationship between the child and the person seeking appointment as the child’s guardian. Generally, the closer the relationship by blood or marriage, the more suitable the prospective guardian.
Arkansas law allows any parent that is chronically ill or near death to choose a stand-by guardian that will care for a minor in the event the parent dies, becomes mentally incapacitated, or becomes physically debilitated and consents to the appointment. Appointment of a stand-by guardian does not terminate the parent’s parental rights. The appointment of a stand-by guardian can be obtained through following the same process for appointment of a normal guardianship. The stand-by guardian must immediately notify the court when the parent dies, becomes incapacitated, or becomes debilitated, and the stand-by guardian immediately assumes the role as guardian of the minor child.
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If you have further questions about guardianship or if you need assistance in obtaining a guardianship, feel free to call our firm at (501) 960-6060 for a consultation or you can click here to contact us.