FAQ Friday: Are There Any Resources That Provide An Overview of Guardianships and Conservatorships in Minnesota?

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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: I’m thinking of becoming guardian and conservator for my aging mother.  Are there any informational resources that give me an overview of the duties and responsibilities of being a guardian or conservator in Minnesota?

Yes!  The Minnesota Judicial Branch has produced a series of educational video segments on what it means to be a guardian and conservator in Minnesota.  Potential guardians and conservators are required to watch these videos in certain judicial districts in Minnesota (2nd, 4th, 6th and 7th Districts) and to note on their Acceptance of Appointment that they have watched the videos.

The topics of the video segments are as follows:

  1. Introduction to Guardianships and Conservatorships
  2. What Guardianship Is and Is Not
  3. Less Restrictive Alternatives To Guardianship and Conservatorship
  4. Duties and Responsibilities of a Guardian
  5. Duties and Responsibilities of a Conservator
  6. Annual Reporting Requirements and Oversight by the Court
  7. Common Issues and Problems

The videos are short, but filled with great information on what it means to take on the responsibility of being a guardian or conservator in Minnesota.

Managing Someone Else’s Money Under a POA

POAOne of the ways to avoid having a guardianship imposed is to have an effectively working “lesser restrictive alternative” in place.   A power of attorney is an example of a lesser restrictive alternative.  Although, it is important to note, that the power of attorney does NOT automatically mean that a guardianship will be avoided.  It can be misused or not used at all.  It can be revoked.

If there is a power of attorney in place, it is important that the person acting under the authority given by it, follow some basic rules/guidelines.  The  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has released a guide called “Managing Someone Else’s Money: Help For Agents Under a Power of Attorney”.  It is a great resource.  It sets forth, in very basic, understandable language, what a power of attorney is, what a person’s duties are under the power of attorney, how to recognize financial exploitation, and contact information for varioius agencies that deal with exploitation.

The 4 basic duties of an agent acting under a power of attorney for a principal (the person granting the power):

  1. Act only in the Principal’s best interest.
  2. Manage the Principal’s money carefully
  3. Keep the Principal’s money and property separate from your own
  4. Keep good records

Check out this great resource for more details!

New Report: Alzheimer’s From The Front Lines

The NAPA (National Alzheimer’s Project Act) issued it’s new report addressing the 10 key issues that they believe must be addressed in a National Alzheimer’s Plan. The report, called: Alzheimer’s From the Front Lines: Challenges a National Plan Must Address can be found on the Alzheimer’s Association’s website (and a link is also provided here). The report was prepared based upon the input of over 43,000 people from across the United States, who shared their insight, experiences and hardships. The 10 key issues which emerged that must be addressed by the National Alzheimer’s Project include:

  1. A lack of public awareness
  2. Insufficient research funding
  3. Difficulties with diagnosis
  4. Poor dementia care
  5. Inadequate treatments
  6. Specific challenges facing diverse communities
  7. Specific challenges facing those with younger-onset Alzheimer’s
  8. Unprepared caregivers
  9. Ill-equipped communities
  10. Mounting Costs
To see facts and statistics about how Alzheimer’s impacts Minnesotans, based upon the input they provided into the report, see here. In Minnesota in 2010, there were 94,000 people 65 years and older with Alzheimer’s. In Minnesota in 2010, there were 237,441 caregivers who provided unpaid care valued at over $3.2 billion.
For more information on the National Alzheimer’s Plan, visit www.alz.org/napa

Resource: Adult Guardianship Court Data and Issues

Looking for a great resource on the current issues facing adult guardianships in the Courts around the United States?   The results of an online survey are compiled in the Adult Guardianship Court Data and Issues report, which was put together by the Conference of Chief Judges,  the Conference of State Court Administrators and the Center for Elders in the Courts.  It highlights the increased need for adult guardianships, as well as the demand for individuals to act as professional guardians.  Both of these are issues that I know we do see in Minnesota, Wright County (where my office, Matt Legal Services, is located).  I don’t see the issue of lack of professional guardians being resolved any time soon, with the budget crisis our Minnesota Court System is facing.  Instead, I think more family members (i.e. unpaid guardians) will need to step up to the plate and take on the responsibility of becoming guardian for their aging loved one.

MAGiC 2010 Annual Fall Conference

The Annual MAGiC (Minnesota Association for Guardianship and Conservatorship) Fall conference is rapidly approaching (November 4, 2010). Information and registration details on the MAGiC website. This year’s theme is “Navigating Sensitive Issues with Competence and Compassion”.

Presentations Include:

The Problem of Medical Futility

Phebe Saunders Haugen, Professor, William Mitchell College of Law

The problem of medical futility complicates decision-making for families and other surrogates. This session will consider the important legal and ethical aspects of such dilemmas.

Animal Hoarding and Techniques for Working with Hoarders

Keith Streff, Investigator, Animal Humane Society

Explore characteristics, motivations and strategies for interventions with animal hoarders, which have broader application for other hoarders, from experienced investigator who walks the lines between empathy and enforcement.

To Lie or Not to Lie: The Ethical Dilemma of Whether to Employ White Lies and Therapeutic Fibs in Working with Clients who have Cognitive Impairment

Anita Raymond, LISW, Volunteers of America of MN;

Mary McGurran, LSW, NCG, Volunteers of America of MN

Is it ever permissible to lie when working with clients with dementia and other cognitive impairments? This session reviews the statutory requirements for professionals, defines ethical principles and identifies ethical conflicts to provide practical techniques to use in working with clients.
The Prudent Investor Rule

Brian Kompelien, ChFC, Ensemble Planning, LLC

Understand the principles of this fiduciary standard and its application in investment decisions and asset management.
Protecting the Vulnerables: A Practical Approach to Identifying and Addressing Issues of Capacity and Undue Influence

Luther Amundson, Attorney, Maser & Amundson, P.A.

Learn the legal standard for capacity, diminished capacity and undue influence and how to recognize when interventions and legal remedies are indicated.
Check back here for detailed blog posts about these topics after the conference!

Handbook for Assessing Capacity in Older Adults

That American Psychological Association has some informative handbooks (one for lawyers, one for judges and one for psychologists) to help you assess capacity in older adults.  For lawyers this is a great tool to help determine whether a person has capacity to execute documents such as Wills, Powers of Attorney, Revocation of Power of Attorney, etc.  It is also very useful to determine whether a guardianship (full or limited) is appropriate.