A guardian may be appointed by the court to make the personal decisions for the protected person known as a (“Ward.”) The guardian has authority to make decisions on behalf of the protected person including and not limited to as where to live, medical decisions, education, and training, etc.
A conservator is an individual appointed by the court to take charge of the finances of a ward. A conservator is appointed to provide financial decisions for the protected person known as the “Conservatee.” A conservator has broad powers including, in many instances, the power to, pay bills, enter into contracts, invest assets, and perform other financial functions for the protected person. This individual has the power over the estate – They take care of money and property. A conservator would handle the income and pay the bills of the ward. In situations where the individual needs both a guardian to make medical and personal decisions and a conservator to manage funds owned by them, a joint guardianship/conservatorship may be requested of the courts.
The Conservator has a fiduciary duty to the ward to manage assets in the ward’s best interest. The Conservator must account to the court every fiscal year what money came in, how it was spent and why. A Conservator can be held responsible for wrongfully administrating the assets.
Wards are generally incapacitated adults or minors who have a court appointed guardian and lack the capacity, or sufficient understanding, to make or communicate responsible personal decisions. The ward may also have an inability to meet personal needs for medical care, nutrition, clothing, shelter, or safety.
Duties as a Guardian
•Being a guardian for someone you love is an important responsibility. The responsibilities and obligations to the court are significant. Here are a considerations to help with your role as guardian:
•If the ward has personal property, you are charged with maintaining and protecting those assets. If there is a legitimate need to dispose of assets, you must give advance Notice to the ward and interested persons of your intent to do so. Proper notice and lack of objection must be made before the sale. The forms can be found on the Minnesota District Court Website under the “Other Materials” section form GAC-12-U .
•Reimbursement of funds advanced to a ward by a conservator triggers an accounting duty. The Conservator must account to the ward for reimbursement of funds spent on behalf of the ward.
•The ward retains rights, even when under guardianship. It is your responsibility to protect and assist the ward in the exercise of those rights. This includes the wards right to vote unless the court has expressly limited that right. The Bill of Rights for Wards and Protected Persons can be found at Minn. Stat. 524.5-120.
•The Personal Well-Being Report/Annual Notice of Right to Petition for Restoration of Capacity is required to be filed annually on the anniversary of your appointment as guardian. The forms can be found on the Minnesota District Court Website under the “Annual Reporting Forms” section.
•A background study must be completed and filed with the court every two years. The form of the background study can be found on the Minnesota District Court website under “Establishing Guardianship/Conservatorship” section.
The court has developed a video that goes through the responsibilities of a guardian. Many courts require an applicant to watch this video before they can be officially appointed as a guardian or conservator. I highly recommend that you view this video if you are thinking about a guardianship/conservatorship for a loved one.
Begin the process.
As always, if you are interested in setting up a guardianship or if you have questions that are more specific about your role as guardian, please call and set up an appointment. Below is a link to search the guardian and conservator registry for more information.
Please read about the roles of a conservator here.
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