What are Conservatorships and Guardianships?
A Conservatorship is the legal authority granted by the Court to take over the financial affairs on behalf another person.
A Guardianship is the legal authority granted by the Court to make decisions relating to the personal and medical treatment of another person.
Conservatorships and Guardianships are used in situations where people are disabled. This may be because they are minors or because they suffer from a medical condition that inhibits their ability to make ordinary decisions day to day.
- A Petition must be completed and filed out with the Court. In the Petition you must state why a Conservatorship or Guardianship is needed and the assets that the person has.
- The Court will send out the Court Visitor. The Court Visitor will interview the Ward and make a report to the Judge on the condition of the Ward, and whether a Conservator or Guardian should be appointed.
- The Court will appoint an attorney to interview and represent the Ward.
- There will be a hearing before the Court on the Petition.
- The Conservator will be required to be bonded. A bond is an insurance policy to reimburse the Ward for any losses caused by the Conservators dishonesty.
- The Conservator will be required to complete an Inventory.
- The Conservator will be required to make annual reports to the Court on the condition of the Ward and his or her finances.
- Criminal background checks are now required of all Conservators and Guardians.
- Ramsey County requires Conservators to submit the annual reports on-line, we expect that this will soon be required in all jurisdictions.
This may seem like a lot of work, but it is necessary to protect the assets and the person from being exploited.
The most common alternatives are the use of a Power of Attorney, Healthcare Declaration and/or Healthcare Power of Attorney. These documents will give the acting person many of the same powers without Court supervision but without the protections inherent in Court approval. Trusts may also be utilized to manage assets.
However, there are no safeguards to protect the person from having his or her property stolen by the Attorney-in-Fact.