Proposed Changes to Minnesota Guardianship Background Study: S.F. No. 7

There is a hearing being held this week on Thursday February 28, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. regarding proposed legislation on the background study that proposed guardians and conservators must go through – and information they must keep updated – in order to be a guardian or conservator.  The text of S.F. Bill No. 7 can be found here.  Contact your legislator if you have comments regarding the proposed bill.

In general, the proposed changes require disclosure of things such as:  civil lawsuits resulting in a judgment involving fraud, misrepresentation, etc; activities impacting a professional licence (suspension, denial, revocation); conviction of a crime other than a petty misdemeanor; an Order For Protection being issued against a person.

Some people are taking the position that this bill goes too far in requiring disclosure of private information that doesn’t affect the ability to serve as guardian (and which may actually prevent qualified people from otherwise serving).  However, really, when someone is acting as a fiduciary over another person’s most private decisions and finances – shouldn’t all of this information about the fiduciary be disclosed and it be up to the court to decide whether to appoint, in spite of the information?  True, a guardian going through a personal bankruptcy might technically have “nothing to do with his ability to serve as conservator”.  However, it may be very relevant because that person may be going through personal financial pressures which impact on his or her ability to serve as fiduciary.  And it seems that the information that is being requested as part of the background study IS all public data anyway – if one knows where to look for it.

If you have comments in support of or in opposition to the proposed bill, contact your representative.

Greater Protection for Minnesota’s Vulnerable Adults Being Proposed

Last week Attorney General Lori Swanson and Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo announced details of proposed legislation that would provide greater protection to vulnerable adults under guardianship and conservatorship in Minnesota.  The press release from Attorney General Swanson’s office can be found here.

The proposed legislation is to be authored by Rep. Debra Hilstrom (DFL – Brooklyn Center) and Sen. Ron Latz (DFL – St. Louis Park).  The major provisions are anticipated to be as follows:

  • Expanding background checks on proposed guardians and conservators to require disclosure of whether they have been denied a license by the state related to the responsibilities of a fiduciary duty, or whether they have ever had a license suspended, revoked or conditioned.
  • Requiring disclosure by proposed guardians of information which may reflect on their suitability to be a guardian or conservator, including:  whether they have filed for bankruptcy, whether they have been found civilly liable for fraud or misrepresentation, whether they have any outstanding civil monetary judgments against them or whether they have had an order for protection or harassment restraining order issue against them.
  • Requiring that background checks be done every 2 years (versus every 5 years, as currently required)
  • Requiring that guardians disclose any changes in the foregoing information (and any criminal history) within 30 days.