Help! My Minnesota Conservator is Confusing!

“Help!  My Minnesota Conservator is confusing!”

I hear this often from callers to Spence Legal.

MyMNConservator is Minnesota’s online conservatorship accounting program that allows (requires) conservators to file their inventory and annual accountings, which are required, electronically. While the MyMNConservator system has received national recognition, it is not free from complaints.

For the family (non-professional) conservator, MyMNConservator (“MMC”) is confusing. Heck, even for professional conservators (conservators for several non-family member clients), MyMNConservator can be challenging.  I think part of what makes it so challenging is that each conservatorship is unique – in terms of assets, income and expenses. The categories offered by MMC don’t always cover the situation. Gathering and entering the appropriate data can be a challenge, particularly during the first year of the conservatorship, when the conservator is just getting used to the assets and expenses of the protected person. Many family conservators are “old school” themselves and do not have the knowledge or sophistication to use an online accounting program, even when there are tutorials, guides and a help line available. I often see family conservators in court explaining to the judge that they don’t even own a computer (really!) and they just want to file their accounting with pencil and paper. Unfortunately, Courts only grant requests to file conservatorship accountings on paper in extraordinary circumstances.

Spence Legal assists conservators with MyMNConservator (and its’ predecessor – CAMPER).  If you need help with MyMNConservator, whether it’s creating an account, naming a designated agent, preparing an Inventory, entering accounting data or completing an annual or final account, please feel free to reach out to Cindi Spence at Spence Legal Services, (763) 682-2247.

 

Family Feud? Courts May Appoint An Independent Guardian or Conservator

On July 9, 2012, the Minnesota Court of Appeals issued an unpublished decision (In re the Guardianship and/or Conservatorship of Lois L. Rothfusz) addressing (among other things) the issue of who should be guardian/conservator when there are feuding family members.  In keeping with precedent (In re the Guardianship of Wells, 733 N.W.2d 506 (Minn. App. 2007); In re Conservatorship of Edwards, 390 N.W.2d 300 (Minn. App. 1986), the Court affirmed the trial court’s decision to appoint a neutral professional as successor guardian/conservator, rather than one of the ward’s daughters, when there was significant acrimony between the children.  The full decision of In re: Guardianship and/or Conservatorship of Lois L. Rothfusz can be found here.  Although family members have statutory priority over a professional guardian, the court has discretion to decline to appoint someone with priority if it is in the best interest of the ward to do so.  See Minn. Stat. 524.5-309 (a) (2011) (priority for guardians) and Minn. Stat. 524.5-413(a) (2011) (priority for conservators).  As the Court stated, “the ward’s best interests are the decisive factor and the court’s paramount concern when deciding who to appoint as guardian and conservator of a ward.”  

Who has statutory priority to be a guardian or conservator in Minnesota?

What if more than one person petitions the court to be guardian and/or conservator for a ward in Minnesota?    Does one person have priority over another?  How does the Court decide who should be guardian?

Minnesota Statute 524.5-309 (for guardians) and Minnesota Statute 524.5-413 (for conservators) provide guidance on these questions and sets forth the statutory priority scheme.  They  provides that, as long as a person is otherwise qualified to serve as guardian or conservator, there is priority in the following order:

  • a current guardian or conservator (other than emergency or temporary guardian)
  • a person named under a current health care directive (as long as there are no restrictions contained therein) or durable power of attorney
  • a spouse or the written nominee of a deceased spouse
  • an adult child
  • a parent or the written nominee of a deceased parent
  • an adult who has lived with the proposed ward for at least six months before the filing of the petition
  • an adult who is related to the proposed ward by blood, adoption or marriage
  • any other adult or professional guardian.

So if you are low down on the priority scale (say for example, if you are a brother-in-law or a friend of the proposed ward and an adult child of the proposed ward wants to be guardian) does that mean you don’t have a chance of being appointed as guardian?  No.  Minn. Stat 524.5-309 and Minn. Stat. 524.5-413 require  the court to appoint the best qualified in that case.

What about if tow individuals with differing priority levels want to be guardian?  Does the court automatically pick the one with higher priority?  No.  Minn. Stat. 524.5-309 and Minn. Stat. 524.5-413 allow the court to appoint someone with lower (or no) priority, if the Court finds it is in the best interest of the Respondent.

If you have questions about priority for appointment as guardian or conservator in Minnesota, or any other guardianship questions, please contact experienced guardianship attorney Cindi Spence Matt at Matt Legal Services, LLC. 

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