Sometimes adults are not able to properly care for themselves and need another adult to assist them. These situations usually arise when a mentally incapacitated adult requires another person to make important financial or medical decisions on their behalf. However, a guardian or conservator may also help their ward with daily activities.
At Johnson/Turner Legal, we understand just how frustratingly opaque the guardianship and conservatorship processes in MN can be. Our team, consisting of a veteran Minnesota guardianship/conservatorship lawyer, two paralegals, and a life coach, can help you navigate your case.
Guardians and conservators play a different role in the lives of their charges:
While guardians and wards play similar roles in the lives of their charges, guardianships and conservatorships obviously require different skillsets. For example, just because a person can act as a guardian doesn't necessarily mean they have the financial education to manage a diversified investment portfolio like a conservator.
Individuals who need a ward may not need a conservator, and vice versa. A medically incapacitated adult may need a ward to take care of them and protect their rights but might lack the assets to warrant a conservator. Similarly, somebody perfectly capable of caring for themselves may not need a ward, but might require a conservator to help them manage complex financial decisions.
In Minnesota, a guardian ad litem represents a child's best interests in legal cases such as adoption, custody/visitation, child support, divorce, or emancipation.
Not all legal guardians are guardians "ad litem." The difference between a guardian and a guardian ad litem is that a guardian ad litem is a child's legal advocate in a specific legal action, while a legal guardian is a child's advocate in all legal matters until the child is emancipated.
If you wish to become a conservator or a guardian, you must file a guardianship or conservatorship appointment petition with the probate court that oversees the ward or protected person's place of residence. You can learn more about the appointment process by following this link or speaking with a Minnesota guardianship/conservatorship attorney.
Once you file the appointment documents, the court will set a hearing date. You must have a third party serve the potential ward/protected person's current caretaker with a notice of the case.
At the hearing, you will appear in court with the proposed ward or protected person and their caretaker. You will make your case to the court. This often involves showcasing documents such as a will and medical examination documents that back up your request to act as a guardian or conservator. The court will then decide whether to make you a guardian or conservator for the proposed ward/protected person.
Guardians and conservators have different requirements. Within two months of appointment, the conservator must file an inventory of the protected person's assets. They must also file additional court orders before selling or utilizing those assets. It's the conservator's responsibility to pay for the support, maintenance, and education of their protected person.
On the other hand, the guardian must care for their ward's wellbeing and possessions. The guardian must also file an annual report on the ward's status, containing medical, physical, and social evaluations of the ward.
The duties and rights afforded to guardians and conservators are complex. At Johnson/Turner Legal, our Minnesota guardianship/conservatorship attorneys can help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a guardian or conservator more thoroughly.
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