Guardianship and Conservatorship Background Study in Minnesota

If you want to be a guardian or conservator for someone in Minnesota, you have to complete a guardianship and conservatorship background study.   Here are some of the most frequently asked questions that I receive from clients about guardianship and conservatorship background studies in Minnesota.

  1. I have to do a background study for my job, does that count? No, unfortunately not.  Even if you have to do a background study for your job, you need to complete the background study that is required under Minnesota guardianship statutes.
  2. Once I do the background study, am I done, or do I have to do it again in the future?  The current requirement is that you do the background study ever 2 years. Be sure to complete it before your 2 year anniversary of being appointed, so that the Court doesn’t issue an Order to Show Cause, requiring you to come in to Court and explain why you haven’t done another background study.
  3. Are there any exceptions that would exempt me from having to complete a background study? There are a few exceptions.  The primary exception is if you are the parent of a developmentally disabled child who has lived with you in the family home for his entire life.
  4. Where do I get the form for the background study? You can get the form on the Minnesota State Court Website. The directions for completing the form and for instructions on where to send it are on the second page of the form.
  5. Where can I find out more information about the background study that is required for Minnesota guardianships and conservatorships?  Minn. Stat. 524.5-118 governs the background study requirement and will provide you with more information on what is required.


Minnesota Guardianship and Conservatorship Background Studies

If you are applying to be guardian or conservator for someone in Minnesota, you will need to complete a background study.  You need to complete this particular study, even if you already have background checks done for a job or school or some other purpose. The statute that addresses the Minnesota guardianship background study is Minn. Stat. 524.5-118.

There are limited exceptions, for individuals who will not need a background study.  Primarily this includes parents who have lived with a developmentally delayed child since birth, when they are applying to be guardian for the 18th birthday.

The best resource for questions on what the background study entails is the Minnesota Department of Human Services website regarding guardian and conservator background studies.

Background Studies in Minnesota Guardianships and Conservatorships

faq red blockes
Guardians and Conservators in Minnesota need to have a background study completed before the Court will appoint them as guardian.  The specific statute that addresses the background study is Minn. Stat. 524.5-118.

Commonly asked questions about the background study:

  • I am a truck driver (or a teacher or a daycare provider . . .) and so I already had a background study for my job.  Do I still need one?  Yes.  The background study for guardianships and conservatorships is specific and checks for certain things, so it needs to be done even if you have had a background study done through a different agency.
  • How much does it cost?  Currently, it costs $50.00 if you haven’t lived out of state in the last 10 years, $130 if you have lived out of state (and then you will also need fingerprints)
  • How long does it take?  It typically takes anywhere from 5 – 8 weeks, or longer.  So you should send in the background study form as soon as you file your petition for guardianship.
  • Where do I get the form to complete the background study?  It is available at – in the “Forms” section, under “Guardianship – Conservatorship”.  Click here for a direct link to the Guardianship Background Study Form.


Professional License Searches in Minnesota Guardianships

background checkProposed guardians or conservators in Minnesota must complete a background check in order to be appointed by the Court.  The statute requiring the background check is Minnesota Statute 524.5-118.  If the proposed guardian or conservator has applied for certain licenses in the State of Minnesota (or other states), that must be disclosed on the petition and those agencies will be contacted as part of the background check in order to determine the status of the license (whether it has ever been conditioned, revoked, suspended or cancelled).  The types of licenses are those involving direct fiduciary responsibilities.  Specifically, the following professional licenses are required to be disclosed:

(1) Lawyers Responsibility Board;

(2) State Board of Accountancy;

(3) Board of Social Work;

(4) Board of Psychology;

(5) Board of Nursing;

(6) Board of Medical Practice;

(7) Department of Education;

(8) Department of Commerce;

(9) Board of Chiropractic Examiners;

(10) Board of Dentistry;

(11) Board of Marriage and Family Therapy;

(12) Department of Human Services; and

(13) Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board.

If your license with any of these agencies has been cancelled, revoked, suspended or conditioned, the background study will indicate that and the Court will use caution in considering whether to appoint you.  You will likely be questioned by the Court about the circumstances surrounding your license and the Court will decide whether the circumstances justify not appointing you in the particular guardianship for which you are petitioning.


Guardianship Background Study in Minnesota

If you want to be a guardian or conservator in Minnesota, you must submit to a background check.  Minnesota Statute 524.5-118 sets for the statutory requirements for the background check.  In general, the background check consists of completing a form with information about yourself and submitting it, along with a check for $50 (and, if you have lived outside of the State of Minnesota within the past 10 years, a fingerprint card and a check for $130) to the Department of Human Services.

Some common questions:

  • How long does the background study take to complete?  It seems to be taking 4 – 6 weeks, sometimes longer if the applicant has lived out of state.
  • When should I submit my background check application?  As soon as you have filed the case and have a court file number!  Since the background checks are taking so long to complete, it is important that you submit your background check application to DHS right away, so that it is completed before the general guardianship hearing.
  • What should I do if the background check results are not back from DHS before the guardianship hearing?  Some courts are allowing the proposed guardian to testify as to his/her lack of criminal convictions, lack of maltreatment reports, etc. and then the Court will appoint them pending the results of the actual background study coming back ok.  Some courts are taking testimony on the general guardianship petition and then just not issuing an Order/Letters until the DHS results are in.  It really depends on the particular judge and the particulars of the guardianship and/or conservatorship.

If you have questions about guardianship and conservatorship background studies, please call experienced guardianship attorney Cindi Spence at Spence Legal Services.

When Do You Need a Background Study for a Guardianship in Minnesota?

Minnesota Statute 524.5-118 sets forth the requirements for a background study on guardians.  There are certain people who are exempt.  The statute provides the details.  However, in general, you are exempt if:

  • You have had a background study done within the previous 5 years;
  • You are a State or County Agency
  • You are a parent or guardian of a ward who has a developmental disability and you have raised the ward in your home until the time the petition was filed.
  • You are a a bank with trust powers, bank and trust company, or trust company, organized under the laws of any state or of the United States and which is regulated by the commissioner of commerce or a federal regulator.

The form for the background study is available on the State Court website.  If you have petitioned to be a guardian or conservator, you should complete the form and turn it to DHS prior to the first court hearing, because it typically takes a few weeks for DHS to complete the study and notify the Court of the results.

The study involves the following:   criminal history data from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, other criminal history data held by the commissioner of human services, and data regarding whether the person has been a perpetrator of substantiated maltreatment of a vulnerable adult and a minor.  In the even the proposed guardian hasn’t lived in Minnesota for the previous five years, then additionally the court “shall request a search of the National Criminal Records Repository if the proposed guardian or conservator has not resided in Minnesota for the previous five years or if the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension information received from the commissioner of human services under subdivision 2, paragraph (b), indicates that the subject is a multistate offender or that the individual’s multistate offender status is undetermined.”