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About guardianships

This page talks about Probate Guardianships. A probate guardianship is when the Court appoints an adult who is not the child’s parent to take care of the child or the child’s property. The Probate Court can only grant a Probate Guardianship if the child is not involved in a Family Court or Juvenile Court action.

There are two kinds of Probate Guardianship:

  • Guardianship of the Person

    Guardianship of the person is set up because a child is living with an adult who is not a parent, and the adult needs the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of the child. In a Probate Guardianship of the Person, the guardian has full legal and physical custody of the child.

    What does a guardian of the person do? The guardian generally has the same responsibilities as a parent. That means the guardian is responsible for the child’s care, including the child’s:

    • Food, clothing and shelter
    • Safety and protection
    • Physical and emotional growth
    • Medical and dental care
    • Education and any special needs.
  • Guardianship of the Estate

    What does a guardian of the estate do? A guardian of the estate manages a child’s income, money, or other property until the child turns 18. A child may need a guardian of the estate if s/he inherits money or assets.

    • In most cases, the Court appoints the surviving parent to be the guardian of the child’s Estate.
    • In some cases the same person can be the guardian of the person and of the estate.
    • In other cases, the Court will appoint two different people.

More Self-Help pages about Guardianship

Other resources:

  • Duties of Guardian, Judicial Council form GC248 
  • Probate Guardianship Pamphlet, Judicial Council Pamphlet GC-205 
  • Probate Guardianship: Rights and Responsibilities, available from the Santa Clara County Court Investigator, 191 No. First St., San Jose, CA 95113.
  • California Conservatorships and Guardianships, a book for lawyers published by the California Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB)

You can also look for Self-Help books at libraries, bookstores or the Santa Clara County Law Library at 360 N. First Street, San Jose. Call 408-299-3567 , or visit 

Other types of situations involving children and adults responsible for them:

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