How can you legally appoint a standby guardian for a child in Michigan?

Understanding Standby Guardianship in Michigan

In Michigan, a standby guardian is a person appointed to take care of a child when the child's parent(s) are no longer able to do so, due to death, incapacitation, or other significant circumstances. The legal framework allows parents to proactively plan for the future care of their children without relinquishing their parental rights while they are still able to fulfill them.

The Legal Process of Appointing a Standby Guardian

The process of appointing a standby guardian in Michigan is governed by the Michigan Compiled Laws under sections 700.5101 to 700.5109 of the Estates and Protected Individuals Code (EPIC). To appoint a standby guardian legally, the following steps must be followed:

An example of when a standby guardian might be needed is in the case of a single parent diagnosed with a terminal illness. By appointing a standby guardian, they ensure that there will be no legal uncertainty regarding the care of their child after their passing.

Additional Considerations

In addition to these steps, it's important for parents to discuss their wishes with the potential standby guardian beforehand. It’s also advisable to review and update guardianship arrangements periodically or after significant life changes.

The Role of a Standby Guardian

A standby guardian's role is similar to that of a permanent guardian but is designed to come into effect under specific conditions outlined by the appointing parent(s). Once those conditions are met, such as the demise or incapacitation of the parent(s), the standby guardian will assume full parental responsibilities for the child.

Historical Context and Importance

The concept of standby guardianship became particularly significant during the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s when many parents faced terminal illnesses and worried about the future care of their children. The legal provisions for standby guardianships provided peace of mind for parents during these difficult times.


Appointing a standby guardian is an essential step in securing a child's future well-being in uncertain times. Parents in Michigan looking to appoint such guardians should follow state laws closely to ensure that their children are cared for according to their wishes if they can no longer do so themselves.