Minnesota Guardianships: The Role of a Court Visitor

When a petition for guardianship and/or conservatorship is filed in Minnesota, the usually appoints a Court Visitor. The Court Visitor is an agent of the Court, whose purpose is to serve the petition on the respondent (the person over whom guardianship or conservatorship is sought) and to meet with respondent to explain the petition and find out the respondent’s thoughts on whether a guardian or conservator is needed. The Court Visitor then issues a report, which is filed with the Court and provided to the petitioner’s attorney, which summarizes the meeting with the respondent.

Typically the Court Visitor wants to meet with the respondent alone. However, the petitioner or someone else may be present if the respondent agrees its ok and if they don’t interfere with the Court Visitor’s work. The Visitor will usually note their appearance in the report.

If the respondent wants the petition read to him/her, the Visitor will do so. Otherwise the Visitor will summarize the petition for the respondent.

The Court Visitor will usually describe the condition of the home where the meeting took place, as well as describe the general demeanor and appearance of the respondent. The Court Visitor will usually make note of any concerns or questions that the respondent raises about the guardianship proceedings during their visit.

The authority for the Court Visitor is provided in Minnesota Statute 524.5-304.

What Does a “Court Visitor” Do in Minnesota Guardianship Proceedings?


When a guardianship petition is filed in Minnesota, someone called a “Court Visitor” is typically appointed by the Court.  The role of the Court Visitor is to serve the petition on the Respondent (the person over whom guardianship is sought) and to report to the Court about the visit. The Court Visitor will usually call the Respondent at the number in the Petition and arrange a visit to the Respondent’s home.

The statute governing the details of the Court Visitor’s work is set forth in Minn. Stat. 524.5-304.  It provides, in pertinent part:

(a) Upon receipt of a petition to establish a guardianship, the court shall set a date and time for hearing the petition and may appoint a visitor. The duties and reporting requirements of the visitor are limited to the relief requested in the petition.


(d) The visitor shall personally serve the notice and petition upon the respondent and shall offer to read the notice and petition to the respondent, and if so requested the visitor shall read the notice and petition to such person. The visitor shall also interview the respondent in person, and to the extent that the respondent is able to understand:

(1) explain to the respondent the substance of the petition; the nature, purpose, and effect of the proceeding; the respondent’s rights at the hearing; and the general powers and duties of a guardian;

(2) determine the respondent’s views about the proposed guardian, the proposed guardian’s powers and duties, and the scope and duration of the proposed guardianship;

(3) inform the respondent of the right to employ and consult with a lawyer at the respondent’s own expense and the right to request a court-appointed lawyer; and

(4) inform the respondent that all costs and expenses of the proceeding, including respondent’s attorneys fees, will be paid from the respondent’s estate.

(e) In addition to the duties in paragraph (d), the visitor shall make any other investigation the court directs.

(f) The visitor shall promptly file a report in writing with the court, which must include:

(1) recommendations regarding the appropriateness of guardianship, including whether less restrictive means of intervention are available, the type of guardianship, and, if a limited guardianship, the powers to be granted to the limited guardian;

(2) a statement as to whether the respondent approves or disapproves of the proposed guardian, and the powers and duties proposed or the scope of the guardianship; and

(3) any other matters the court directs.


FAQ Friday: What is a Court Visitor in Minnesota Guardianship Proceedings?

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FAQ Friday is a new part of this blog where Spence Legal Services will provide answers to frequently asked questions on guardianships and conservatorships in Minnesota.  If you have a question that you would like answered for a future post, please submit it to Spence Legal via email (our contact information can be found on the “Contact Us” tab on this website)

FAQ:  What does a Court Visitor do in Minnesota Guardianship Proceedings?

When a guardianship or conservatorship petition is filed, the Court appoints someone called a “Court Visitor”.  (See Minn. Stat. 524.5-304).  The role of the Court Visitor is to serve the petition on the Respondent (the person for whom a guardianship is being sought),  to go over the petition with the Respondent  and to provide a written report to the Court about the visit.  The Court Visitor’s report will include an opinion as to whether guardianship/conservatorship appears to be appropriate, based upon the Visitor’s interactions with, and observations of, the Respondent.  The Court Visitor will usually call the Respondent, or the person taking care of the Respondent, in advance of the meeting to coordinate a meeting.  Sometimes the Court Visitor will make an unannounced visit to the Respondent.  The Court Visitor will make note in his/her report whether anyone else was present during the meeting with the Respondent.  The Court Visitor’s report is filed with the court and a copy is given to the Petitioner or his attorney in advance of the hearing.

The Role of the Court Visitor in Guardianship and Conservatorship Proceedings in Minnesota

What is a Court Visitor? A Court Visitor is an individual appointed by the Court to serve notice upon the Respondent and make a report to the Court about the Respondent’s condition and the appropriateness of the relief requested in the Petition.

What is the statutory authority for a Court Visitor?  Minn. Stat. 524.5-304 (guardianships) and Minn. Stat. 524.5-406 (conservatorships) governs the role and authority of the Court Visitor. 

What does a Court Visitor do?  The Court Visitor, once appointed by the Court, contacts the Respondent and schedules a time to meet with the Respondent.  When the Court Visitor meets with the Respondent, he or she personally serves the Respondent with a copy of the Notice of Hearing and Rights and the Petition.  The Court Visitor will ask the Respondent whether he/she would like the Notice and Petition read out loud. If requested, the Court Visitor will then read the entire Notice/Petition to the Respondent.

What is contained in the Court Visitor’s report?  The Court Visitor completes a report that is then filed with the Court (and provided to Petitioner’s attorney), providing the Court with information about: the Respondent’s appearance, the Respondent’s ability to answer basic questions, the Respondent’s position on the petition, whether the Respondent wants an attorney appointed, and whether and to what extent the Court Visitor believes a guardianship or conservatorship is appropriate.

Who are the Court Visitors?  Each county is different.  However, in general the Court Visitor is an individual from the county human services.

What role does the Court Visitor’s Report have in the proceedings?  It is considered by the Court in determining the appropriateness of the guardianship or conservatorship. 

If you have questions about guardianships or conservatorships, please contact Cindi Matt at Matt Legal Services.