Upcoming Travel Plans? How to Temporarily Delegate Parental Authority

By Ashley L. Hawley
December 19, 2019

Picture this: you are lying on the beach in sunny Aruba, thinking about your best friend, Kristin, who valiantly volunteered to watch your three children while you and your spouse got away from the Wisconsin winter for the first time in ages – when all of a sudden you see a hotel staff member racing across the beach, screaming your name.  Something has happened to your three year old.  She is in the hospital.  She has been separated from Kristin, and Kristin is frantic that she knows nothing about what is going on or whether your daughter will be okay.

Tragedies like the one depicted above will ruin a vacation regardless of the preparations made in advance, however, there is no reason this situation needs to be quite as frantic.

Wisconsin statute section 48.979 allows a parent (or other guardian) to temporarily delegate parental authority.  The statute provides detailed guidance on the necessary elements of this delegation, and in response, many counties (including Marathon) have taken these specifications and put together an easy to fill out pdf form.  This form is available online, including on Marathon County’s website.  The form can also be modified with additional detail added to fit the particular situation.  The delegation of parental authority can be a broad delegation, basically allowing the trusted individual to step into the shoes of the parent(s) when they are not available; or it can be more limited and specific, such as allowing the stand-in parent to consent to changes in childcare, consent to a child applying for a driver’s license or employment, or simply allow the individual to get information on the child’s health care.

Besides making sure you select the right person or persons to delegate authority to, the most important part of this process is to make sure that when filling out the form your intentions are clear and you have read through the entire document and understand the authority given.  Note that this delegation of authority does not take the ultimate decision-making away from the parent, if and when the parent becomes available.  The purpose of the document is to allow Kristin to be there when you cannot, giving everyone as much peace of mind as possible.

We also recommend, although it is not required, that you sign the document in the presence of a notary, and your proposed agent also sign to consent to the authority given.  If you have any questions or concerns about the Delegation of Parental Control document, or any other estate planning documents that you should draft prior to getting on the plane to Aruba, you should discuss with a qualified estate planning attorney.

On behalf of our firm, happy holidays to everyone, and safe travels in the coming year!

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The content in the following blog posts is based upon the state of the law at the time of its original publication. As legal developments change quickly, the content in these blog posts may not remain accurate as laws change over time. None of the information contained in these publications is intended as legal advice or opinion relative to specific matters, facts, situations, or issues. You should not act upon the information in these blog posts without discussing your specific situation with legal counsel.

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