I got an answer to my question “Will an attorney be able to file electronically through CAMPER for a conservator client?” The short answer: “Yes”. This was mentioned briefly in an article on CAMPER in the October 4, 2010 issue of Minnesota Lawyer, where Michael Moriarity, District Court Administrator for the 10th Judicial District, indicated that the statewide CAMPER system (unlike the pilot program in Ramsey County) would accept filings from a bookkeeper or attorney on behalf of a conservator. The article did not explain procedurally how this would be accomplished, so I called Mr. Moriarity to find out. According to him, there will be an Agent Designation form that will be available online for attorneys to complete and submit the paperwork. An attorney will do the CAMPER training once, and then will complete the Agent Designation form, apply for a CAMPER user name/password and will be able to submit accountings online for their clients. I believe the Agent designation form gets filed with each case. Since it is the conservator that is ultimately accountable to the court, an attorney would essentially prepare the electronic accounting, save it, call their conservator client in for a meeting and review it with the client to make sure it is accurate, have the conservator sign a hard copy of what will be submitted (mostly for the attorney’s own liability reasons), and then the attorney will submit it electronically (along with the agent designation). Mr. Moriarity indicated that the Agent Designation forms would be available online this week (hopefully) and that the FAQ section of the CAMPERS information would explain this process.
I also discussed with Mr. Moriarity whether there would be a uniform way to “opt out” of CAMPERS electronic filing, for those conservators who simply are not computer savvy and who do not want to hire an attorney to file electronically. There will not be a uniform way to opt out. However, as with most things, the judges have discretion to issue an Order making an exception. In fact, I was recently in court in Sherburne County and observed one of the judges making such an exception. I think making exceptions like this is important and should be done on a case by case basis if the circumstances warrant it. I know that there are many conservatorships where there aren’t a whole lot of assets involved, and it is a parent or an elderly spouse who is the conservator for a family member and the conservator simply doesn’t have the computer skills, time or resources to figure out how to file through CAMPERS. In cases like this, I hope judges will make an exception and allow the conservator to file “the old fashioned way”.
I also found out more about how the CAMPERS system works for the Courts. Apparently there is computer code built in that flags certain aspects of the account if certain things happen. For example, if a particular expense is too large (I don’t know what the threshold is), it will be flagged for examination. If an expense category is too large compared to previous years accountings in that file, it will be flagged for examination. Once they are flagged for examination, some things will be readily apparent and won’t warrant a hearing. (i.e. if the rent expense category is huge this year, and it is because the protected person went from living at home to living in a nursing home, that is easily explainable and would not require a hearing). But if there is no clear explanation for an item that is flagged, the Court would likely set the matter for hearing and have the conservator explain the flagged item. With the recent headlines about conservators stealing money from their clients, I think a system like this is a good thing and will more easily catch the bad guys.