“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.
MyMNConservator, which was scheduled to launch yesterday, has been delayed. It should be up and running after 4:00 p.m. today. The link to MyMNConservator can be found here.
Tomorrow is the big day for My Minnesota Conservator (MyMNConservator or MMC) to launch and replace the CAMPER electronic reporting system. The system promises to be much more user friendly. Patience will be required at the outset, as I am sure there will be some glitches and a learning curve. If you require the assistance of an attorney, please feel free to call Cindi A. Spence at Spence Legal Services at (763)682-2247.
What do you need to know to use MMC?**
- There will be tutorial videos for MMC available on You Tube.
- In order to use MMC you must first create an account. You need an email address to do this. This will be your log in for MyCourtMN, which will have additional features in the future.
- In order to register a case (a conservatorship file), you must enter the file number EXACTLY as it appears in MNCIS, with dashes included. If it is an older case, the last digits have to be six.
- You will need to then enter the anniversary reporting date. If you have already previously filed an annual account, your date will be the period end date on the last filed account. If you have not yet filed an inventory, it will be the date of the Letters of Conservatorship (which will be the date that the Letters are filed).
- You will have to manually fill out an Inventory – you cannot use a CSV.
- The assets from CAMPER were not able to transfer to MMC, so the first time you enter information about a case you will need to create a conversion inventory. You do this by using the assets and numbers from the last annual account.
- For personal property do not enter a value less than $500.
- If you want an attorney or other agent to help you with your accounting, you will need to designate her as a Designated Agent. This process is simpler in MMC – you do not need to fill out a form and send it in and wait for the Court to allow access anymore. Instead, there is a clickable area (a pencil) where you are able to add someone as your designated agent. The Designated Agent has a separate log in.
- Personal Well Being Reports must be filed with the court via paper (or e-file if that is available in your district), NOT through MMC.
Stay tuned for additional blog posts with tips and tricks for using MMC.
**MMC is a work in progress. The information in this blog post may change. If you have questions, consult with MMC at (763)279-0176
My Minnesota Conservator is now scheduled to officially launch on April 15, 2014. For details, see the announcement on the Minnesota Court website.
Of significance to current conservators:
- CAMPER will be completely offline from February 24 – February 28.
- After February 28th, CAMPER will be read only. You will not be able to edit, print or submit accounts during this period (from February 28 – April 15).
- Courts are being asked to extend deadlines for inventories and accounts based on this shut down period. You need to contact your local court and secure an extension – they are not automatic.
- When My Minnesota Conservator launches, you will need to create an account (you must have an email address to do so) and then create a “conversion inventory” with the numbers from the last accounting that you filed in CAMPER.
- Video training will be available for My Minnesota Conservator on April 15, 2014.
If you have questions on CAMPER or My Minnesota Conservator, contact Spence Legal Services
at (763) 682-2247.
The Judicial Branch recently announced that the launch of My Minnesota Conservator has, again, been delayed. Until it is launched, conservators should continue to use CAMPER to file their annual reports with the court. The judicial branch website has a link where you can subscribe to receive updates on the status of My Minnesota Conservator.
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.
As I said in an earlier post, Minnesota is moving to a mandatory e-filing type system for Conservatorship accounts, effective January 1, 2011. The system is called CAMPER (Conservator Account Monitoring Preparation and Electronic Reporting). In order to use it, you need a log-in ID and password, which are only given to you after completing on-line training. The on-line training is a series of 7 tutorials which you have to view and which is supposed to take about 37 minutes (however, when i did it, there were issues with the uploading of the tutorials, so it took longer). The tutorials, in my opinion, were painfully slow. They went through each item on the screen very thoroughly and in lots of detail. This would probably be helpful for a user who is not familiar with how the completion of on-line forms work, but for someone who has basic knowledge of/experience with completing on-line forms, the tutorials are tedious. Nonetheless, the program itself (CAMPER) looks very cool. It is essentially a system of online forms, like a form wizard program. The conservator enters all the basics: property on hand, income, expenses, etc. After doing so, the program compiles the appropriate forms (Inventory, Annual Account, Final Account) and they are submitted electronically to the Court. It looks like it will simplify things for both the conservators and the courts (once the conservators get used to entering/submitting info this way; I’m sure there will be an adjustment period where it will cause headaches for all.)
I think the CAMPER program will be good in that it will force the conservator to be organized and more accountable (as they should be). It will be great for professional conservators who have multiple protected persons as clients. However, for many of the individuals that I represent who are conservators of just their spouse, or parent or child, I think they will have a hard time with the program. Many of my clients are already overwhelmed with the work and details of being a guardian and conservator for their loved one, and they aren’t particularly computer savvy. So to add a requirement that they learn how to do all these forms on-line, may seem even more overwhelming to them. Many of them currently just bring all the information to an attorney, have the attorney complete the appropriate forms and then meet with the attorney to sign off on the forms. Now it appears they will have to do it all themselves. I haven’t seen an option in the training tutorial that would allow an attorney to prepare all of the on-line forms for a conservator client and then just have the conservator review it before electronic submission. (There is a part that asks the user if they have an attorney and they fill in the attorney information; The user can also save the information before submitting it, so perhaps an attorney could simply get the log in information from their client and prepare the documents for the client, save them, then have the client review them before they are submitted? I plan on emailing the CAMPER people and asking them if this is an option. I’ll post what I find here later.)
Minnesota Courts have implemented a new online filing system for annual (and final) accounts for conservatorships. Check with your local court to see if they are requiring it yet. Apparently it is mandatory statewide by January 1, 2011. Here is a link to the Court’s website regarding the training that needs to be completed to use the online system, which is called CAMPER (Conservator Account Monitoring and Preparation and Electronic Reporting): CAMPER link
While I typically favor automating things, because I think it makes life easier in the long run, I have very mixed feelings about this new requirement. The majority of my conservator clients are individual family members, many of whom aren’t technologically sophisticated. While many of them use our firm’s services for preparation of an annual account, many of them also do the account on their own (and I have witnessed many pro se conservators in court who do the filing on their own – “the old fashioned way”, with pen and paper). I fear that this new electronic filing requirement will force them to hire attorneys or other professionals to do the filing and that will increase fees (and decrease funds available to the protected person). Time will tell.