How Guardianship Works in Idaho for Children & Families


Believe it or not, Idaho is leading the country in population growth. Whether you are a native Idaho resident or new to the Gem State, it’s easy to appreciate Idaho for its natural beauty. However, it’s important to dig a bit deeper to understand the legal realities of the state, especially if it’s somewhere you want to raise your family. 

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Where you live impacts more than just daily aesthetics. Your home state also impacts your decisions about your end-of-life planning. End-of-life planning involves making important decisions, including decisions about guardianship. 

A guardian is appointed by the court to provide for the personal care and well being of a person, typically called a ward in the eyes of the state. There are many instances where a guardianship may be necessary. If you have young children, you may need to choose a guardian for them in case you become incapicated or even die. Like all things in life, it pays to be prepared.

No matter your situation, if you live in Idaho then this article is for you. Read on as we discuss how guardianship works in Idaho for children and families. 

What Types of Guardianship Exist in Idaho?

In Idaho a guardianship can be used for either of the following:

  • A child under the age of 18 
  • Someone over 18 who is developmentally disabled or otherwise incapacitated 

There are many different types of guardianship in Idaho, including: 

  • Natural
  • Permanent
  • Temporary
  • General
  • Limited
  • Testamentary 

These types of guardianships will be discussed in greater detail in the later sections. If you have questions about what type of guardianship may be appropriate for your situation, then you should consult with an attorney who has guardianship experience. They can answer your questions and assist with the guardianship process if necessary. 

» MORE: Everyone's wishes are different. Here's how to honor your unique loved one.

Who Are the Default Guardians for Minor Children, Older Adults, or Adults With Special Needs in Idaho?

Is there a default guardian in Idaho? Most states have a process they follow for guardianship, especially if no formal guardian was named in a legal will or other planning document. 

In every state, guardians are appointed by the court. There are no default guardians in Idaho. The only exception to this can be seen with natural guardians. Parents are natural guardians  for their children and need no court appointment. When anyone other than a parent is tasked with guardianship, they need to be appointed formally. 

What Forms Do You Need to File for Guardianship in Idaho?

The forms you need to file for guardianship in Idaho vary by the type of guardianship for which you are filing. The State of Idaho provides self-help services, including instructions and forms for filing for guardianship. If you have questions about filing for guardianship in Idaho, you may want to consult with an experienced guardianship attorney.

Filing for minor guardianship

If you are filing for minor guardianship in Idaho, then you will need to file the following forms which you can find online:

  • Family law case information sheet for de facto custodian, adoption, and minor guardianship cases
  • Petition for appointment of guardian of a minor
  • Notice of guardianship petition and hearing
  • Affidavit of service of petition for appointment
  • Consent to appointment of guardian
  • Nomination by a minor (required if minor is 14 years of age or older)
  • Waiver of notice (optional)
  • Acceptance of appointment by guardian

To finalize general guardianship, you will also need to file the following forms:

  • Order re appointment of attorney or guardian ad litem
  • Judgment appointing guardian of minor
  • Letters of guardianship

Filing for temporary (emergency) guardianship

Temporary guardianship is for limited time frames. If you are requesting temporary guardianship of a minor then you would need to file the following in addition to the above forms:

  • Letters of temporary guardianship
  • Order appointing temporary guardian
  • Notice of temporary guardianship of a minor

Filing for guardianship of an incapacitated adult

If you are filing for guardianship of an incapicated adult in Idaho, then you will need to file the following:

  • Petition for a finding of incapacity and appointment of a guardian
  • Certificate of completion of the Supreme Court’s online training course regarding a guardian
  • Completed criminal history and background check
  • Guardian ad litem written report.
  • Visitor written report.
  • Physician written report

Filing for guardianship of a person with developmental disabilities 

If you are filing for guardianship of a person with developmental disabilities in Idaho, then you will need to file the following:

  • Petition for a finding of legal disability or partial legal disability and the appointment of a guardian
  • Certificate of completion of the Supreme Court’s online training course regarding a guardian
  • Completed criminal history and background check
  • Idaho Department of Health and Welfare evaluation committee written report

How Do You File for Guardianship in Idaho?

The process for filing for guardianship in Idaho will vary depending on whether you are filing for guardianship of a minor, guardianship of an incapacitated adult, or guardianship of a person with developmental disabilities. Filing for guardianship in Idaho will generally require the following steps: 

  • Gathering, filling out, and filing court forms including those listed above
  • Paying any necessary fees
  • Obtaining necessary signatures 
  • Completing any necessary training
  • Completing criminal history and background check if required
  • Proving notices to the appropriate persons
  • Attending the court hearing(s)

Every guardianship situation is unique. The above steps may not be all that a person has to complete if they are filing for guardianship in Idaho. If you have questions about filing for guardianship in Idaho you should speak with an attorney. 

How Do You Assign a Guardian for a Minor Child in Idaho?

In Idaho, guardians are appointed by the court, they are not assigned. In some situations, it is possible for a parent to name a guardian for their minor child. These types of guardianship will be discussed in the next section.

How Guardianship Works for Minor Children

In Idaho, the court may appoint a guardian for a minor child in cases where the parent cannot or decides to relinquish rights. In extreme cases, this can be because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Similarly, the parent might not be able to provide a stable, safe home environment. 

In addition to natural guardians which were discussed in an earlier section, there are different types of guardians for minor children. Most of these are someone who is related to the child, keeping families intact as best as possible. 

» MORE: You need more than a will. Start here.


A permanent guardian is used here to distinguish from a temporary guardian which is discussed below. A guardianship that isn’t temporary has a longer duration. However, it will still end when any of the following occur:

  • A court order terminates the guardianship
  • The minor turns 18 years old
  • The minor marries
  • The minor is adopted
  • The minor dies


In some instances, it may be necessary to appoint a guardian for a minor child for a short period of time. In Idaho, the court may appoint a temporary guardian for the minor if another guardian has yet to be appointed. 

This is done with the sole purpose of protecting the health and safety of the minor. A temporary or emergency guardianship is done until the court finds the child a long-term solution.


A testamentary guardian is a guardian that a parent appoints for their minor child by will. In Idaho, if a minor is 14 or older they may include their own voice as part of the court hearing. This means they can object to another appointment.

How Guardianship Works for Older Adults

In Idaho, it is not possible to appoint a guardian for an adult simply because they are older. In order for a guardian to be appointed, either the proposed ward or someone interested in their welfare must petition the court for a finding of incapacity. 

An incapacitated person is a person who is impaired to the extent that he or she cannot make decisions for himself or herself. A guardianship should be the least restrictive form of guardianship based on the individual’s needs, protecting the individual's autonomy. 


In Idaho, if a guardianship isn’t temporary then it is generally considered permanent. This type of guardianship terminates when either of the following occur:

  • The death of the ward
  • Order of the court.


As discussed above, a guardian may be appointed for a short duration. In Idaho, the court may appoint a temporary guardian in certain emergency situations when it finds that the proposed ward’s health, safety, or welfare is facing an immediate risk.


A general or full guardianship is the most restrictive type of guardianship. It gives the guardian complete authority over the ward’s support, care, education, health, and welfare.


A person that is incapicitated may not be limited in all areas of their life. In these instances, the court may limit the powers of the guardian to only those necessary based on the ward’s individual needs. This could be someone responsible for medical decisions, etc. 


In Idaho, the parent of an incapacitated person or the spouse of a married incapacitated person can appoint a guardian by will. The appointment by a spouse has priority over an appointment by a parent. 

How Guardianship Works for Adults With Developmental Disabilities or Special Needs

In Idaho, anyone who is unable to care for himself or herself due to a physical or developmental disability can appoint a guardian. co-guardians, conservators, co-conservators, or both.” Parents do not automatically become their adult child’s guardian. However, when appointing a guardian, the court must give preference to the parents first. 

Just as with guardians of incapitated adults, a guardianship should be the least restrictive form of guardianship based on the individual’s needs. Additionally, permanent guardianship, temporary guardianship, general guardianship, and testamentary guardianship are similar to those guardianships discussed in the above section regarding incapicitated adults. 


A partial guardian has limited rights based on the court order. This can occur where the ward can meet some but not all of their health and safety needs.

Guardianship may not be the only option available to meet the needs of an adult with developmental disabilities or special needs. If you have questions about alternatives to guardianship for you or a loved one, contact an experienced guardianship attorney.  

Frequently Asked Questions: Guardianship in Idaho

The guardianship process can feel overwhelming. Especially when it involves a loved one. If you are going through the guardianship process, remember that you do not have to go through it alone. There are many resources available in your community to assist you, including this article and the Cake website. Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions about guardianship in Idaho.

How long is temporary guardianship in Idaho?

In Idaho, a temporary guardianship for a minor may not exceed six months unless extended for good cause. Only one good cause extension is allowed. The extension period must not last longer than six additional months.

In Idaho, a temporary guardianship for an incapicitated person or a person with a developmental disability may not exceed 90 days, unless extended for good cause. Temporary guardianship is not a replacement for a long-term solution. 

What’s the difference between guardianship, conservatorship, and custody in Idaho?

A guardianship and conservatorship are different based on their scope of responsibilities. Conservatorships are limited to the financial affairs of the ward. Guardianships can involve almost all aspects of the ward’s life. 

Custody is generally used to refer to the legally established relationship between parents and their children. There are two types of custody: legal and physical. Legal refers to the parent’s decision-making rights, responsibilities and authority on all things having to do with the health, education, and general welfare of a child or children.” Physical custody refers to where the child resides.

Can you get guardianship without going to court in Idaho?

Guardians are court appointed and therefore you cannot get guardianship without going to court in Idaho. However, as we mentioned in earlier sections, natural guardians like parents don’t need any formal court appointment.

Start Your End-of-Life Planning Today

There is no right or wrong time to start your end-of-life planning. It is an ongoing process that evolves as your life changes.

One consideration during the planning process should be guardianships. Both with regard to your needs and the needs of your loved ones. When you are considering guardianships, you may also want to consider the many guardianship alternatives and how they can be incorporated into your plans. 

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