When people are no longer able to care for themselves, someone steps in to act on their behalf. Maybe you have already faced this situation with a loved one: mom or dad need more assistance as they grow older. Helping pay the bills and mow the lawn once a month or so becomes daily phone calls about misplaced medicine and last minute payments to the electric company. However, the person in need still has rights. Not just anyone can take over their lives or their finances. They may need a guardianship or a conservatorship.
Guardianship in Minnesota
Typically, someone asks the Court to appoint a guardian to care for someone who needs help (the “ward”). Courts generally will only approve a guardianship if the Ward is too impaired. For example, an individual with just a little memory trouble usually won’t need a guardianship, while someone in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s might.
The guardian’s duties relate to the ward’s care and comfort. For example, the guardian might make sure the ward has meals, goes to doctor appointments, and any other needs related to daily living. In addition, the guardian will take care of the ward’s personal effects like clothing and furniture.
During the guardianship, the court continues to oversee the ward’s care. Every year, or as ordered by the judge, the guardian must file a report with the court.
Minnesota Law and Your Conservatorship
A conservatorship is similar in that:
- A court becomes involved and appoints a conservator;
- The ward is someone who needs assistance; and
- The conservator has specific responsibilities to the ward and the court.
However, conservatorships relate to the financial needs of the ward not the personal needs. The conservator will inventory the ward’s property, then file an annual accounting with the court. During the conservatorship, the conservator will pay to care for the ward’s property and pay the ward’s debts.
Guardianship vs. Conservatorship – Both Helpful, Both May Be Avoidable
If someone needs help, they need help. That’s it. However, wouldn’t it be better to choose your own agent instead of having the court appoint one? A durable power of attorney or living trust gives the power back to you.
Are you ready to start your estate plan? Does your plan need a good review? Call Virtus Law at 612.888.1000 or send us an email at email@example.com to let us know you are ready to get started. Our main office is in Minneapolis, with other offices located in Maplewood, Cambridge, Edina, Mendota Heights, and Red Wing.