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Do You Need a Conservatorship to Protect a Parent in Minnesota? How to Get One if You Do

A father and a son smiling after discussing about Conservatorships

Cheryl Tanner felt she had no choice but to retain an attorney and petition the court for a conservatorship to manage her father’s finances. A family acquaintance identified as “Sue” had targeted Tanner’s father for his life savings. Sue tried to isolate him from his family, then married the widower and promptly took over his bank accounts. Once Sue was also appointed as the trustee of his revocable trust, Cheryl decided to act. An article from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “When it’s the right time to pursue conservatorship for your loved one,” details the story. 

Cheryl Tanner’s story is familiar. Aging loved ones become vulnerable targets of fraud and other financial schemes. This article examines conservatorships, which protect family members in physical or cognitive decline from financial risks. We discuss conservatorships versus guardianships, how to get one, and alternatives. 

What’s the Difference between Conservatorship and Guardianship?

Court-supervised conservatorship and guardianship are established once a person is considered incompetent. The same person can be a conservator and guardian, or a court can appoint a different person for each. 

Watch our Guardianships & Conservatorships video to learn more about the differences between these two legal appointments:

Conservatorships differ from guardianships in that a court-appointed individual makes financial decisions and handles financial affairs and assets for someone who cannot do so for themselves. Conservatorship oversees a person’s estate, financial matters, and decisions. 

A guardianship oversees an incapacitated individual’s daily care, such as healthcare decisions and well-being. Guardianships oversee a person’s care, health, and daily life. 

How Do the Conservatorship and Guardianship Processes Work in Minnesota?

The process focuses on a person’s personal and financial best interests. The process, designed to ensure the right help and protection, also preserves their rights. To get a conservatorship or guardianship, the court deems or confirms a person can’t manage their life or financial matters competently.

Minnesota law requires review and consideration of more flexible alternatives to protect and assist an individual. If you feel a loved one is mentally or physically incapacitated, explore alternatives such as a power of attorney (POA) or advance directives. Work with an experienced estate planning attorney at Stone Arch Law Office in Minneapolis or Woodbury to discuss your options. 

Minnesota residents petition the court to start the appointment process. The court typically assigns an investigator to interview the person to confirm whether conservatorship is necessary. If it is necessary, the court sets a hearing. 

Consider These Conservatorship Alternatives First

Much like guardianship and conservatorship, estate planning often includes medical and financial powers of attorney. These POAs authorize a trusted person to make decisions and oversee healthcare or monetary matters when a loved is incapacitated. Read our blog, Incapacity Planning: Safeguarding Your Estate and Future, to learn more.  

By contrast, a Power of Attorney is a voluntary and flexible arrangement made while the person is still competent, offering a less intrusive alternative without court involvement.  Sometimes, a court-appointed guardianship or conservatorship becomes necessary even when a Power of Attorney is in place.

Advance healthcare or medical directives outline your wishes and preferences on medical providers, treatments, and life-saving measures. An authorized family member or friend can make decisions and manage medical care. 

Conclusion

A conservatorship may become necessary because of significant mental decline from diseases like Alzheimer’s or a person’s inability to manage their personal or financial affairs due to aging or an intellectual disability. Anyone considering a conservatorship for a loved one should speak with a seasoned estate or elder law attorney.

Key Conservatorship in Minnesota Takeaways:

  • Conservatorship Versus Guardianship in Minnesota: Conservatorship oversees a person’s estate, financial matters, and decisions. Guardianships oversee a person’s care, health, and daily life. 
  • The Conservatorship and Guardianship Process in Minnesota: The process focuses on a person’s personal and financial best interests. The process, designed to ensure the right help and protection, also preserves their rights.
  • Consider These Conservatorship Alternatives First: Powers of attorney (POAs) like medical and financial and advance healthcare directives. 

Schedule Your Consultation Today

If you’re ready to take the next step in safeguarding a loved one’s interests, Book A Call with our Minneapolis and Woodbury estate planning office to learn how to get started.

Reference: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (March 1, 2024) “When it’s the right time to pursue conservatorship for your loved one”

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