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Guardians and Conservators in Minnesota:
Protecting Individuals under Authority of the Court

Guardians and Conservators for Adults and Minors
Guardians and conservators are legally-appointed caretakers for adults or minors who need protection for their person and/or property. The need for a guardian or conservator will often arise when no other or more appropriate caretaker is available or able to act, due to death or absence or incapacity, for example.

Every Situation is Unique
Since every person's situation is different, the guardian or conservator's involvement in each situation will be determined by the particular needs. However, the role usually involves gathering and securing the person's property, arranging suitable living arrangements, paying bills, and making provisions for future needs. In the case of a minor, there will often be issues such as school attendance, recreation, and securing an inheritance. For the elderly and physically disabled, medical care may be a predominant issue.

The duties of a guardian or conservator are under control of the court. Property is inventoried for the court, and other reports are prepared and filed to document that appropriate steps are being taken to assure protection of the person's property and personal safety and comfort.

The guardian or conservator will generally be ordered to provide a bond as protection.


Initiation of a Guardianship or Conservatorship
In many cases, a guardian or conservator is appointed by the court after a petition is filed and a hearing conducted. The petition may be filed by family, authorities, or others. The person in need of care may be actively involved in this decision, or may not be participating in his or her care at the time due to some form of incapacity.

Adults with children often name a person in their wills to serve as guardian for minor children should this unfortunate situation occur; in such cases, different procedures apply.


Daily Management
Once approved and in effect, the guardian or conservator assumes management of the entrusted property and personal matters. Generally, routine matters are carried out without direct court involvement, although the court can be called upon in some instances and must be involved in others. Court-required reports are prepared at the beginning and at regular intervals. Costs of management are usually payable from the property of the person under care, although there may be other sources if the person has little in the way of assets or income. Friends, family, social workers, doctors, and personnel from the nursing home or hospital may often be involved.


Winding Up
The duties will end when there is no further need. This can be when a child attains majority, the physical disability ends, a new person is appointed, death occurs, or the court terminates the guardianship or conservatorship, for example. A final report is usually prepared and filed, assets transferred appropriately, and discharge approved by the court.


This Is a Brief and Simplified Presentation Only
Again, each situation is unique. Court rules and law in Minnesota provide for a flexible system under which various choices are made by the professionals and concerned parties. It is very possible that these procedures would arise and be carried out under a scenario quite different from the usual types of situations discussed here. Professional advice and involvement is always needed.


Guardianships and Conservatorships Are an Option
for Providing Comfort and Care for Loved Ones
Persons who are concerned about caring for another should contact a knowledgeable attorney to discuss the options, which might include delegation of powers, trust arrangements, wills, or other choices.

A guardianship or conservatorship may be the best or only option in some cases, and in those situations careful planning and selection of the guardian or conservator will help assure a satisfactory result.

Occasionally the media will carry stories about a particularly difficult situation or unusual conflict involving a person under guardianship, but in fact most guardianships and conservatorships deal with routine daily matters of simply caring for individuals who are elderly or perhaps younger but under some disability. Persons who are dissatisfied with the care being provided by a guardian or conservator should consult an attorney without delay.


If You Are Considering These Matters,
Be Sure to Consult an Attorney
An attorney can assist in assessing and choosing the best alternative, and help assure that appropriate steps are taken to protect the person in need of care.


** ALWAYS HAVE AN ATTORNEY REPRESENT YOU IN THESE IMPORTANT AND COMPLEX MATTERS. **


GERALD HASSELBRINK, Attorney at Law
of the Minnesota Bar and United States District Court

INDEPENDENT, CONFIDENTIAL, LEGAL SERVICES
PRACTICING ESTATE AND LIFE PLANNING IN CENTRAL MINNESOTA
WILLS, TRUSTS, AND ESTATES
CONSERVATOR AND GUARDIAN

St. Cloud - St. Joseph, Minnesota
Phone (320) 251-0222 | (320) 363-0414

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Copyright 2009 Gerald Hasselbrink
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