The boundaries of guardianships and conservatorships are set in statute, court rules, and most of all, in an individual order from the court. No two guardianship situations are exactly the same and different powers might be assigned based on a person’s needs. The following are some of the limitations people should consider.
Guardianship and conservatorship are:
Not required to access services.
People have the right to access disability waivers or nursing facilities based on their medical needs. In fact, those supports might be exactly what a person needs to avoid guardianship or conservatorship. Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan affirms the goal of “the opportunity and freedom for meaningful choice [and] self-determination…[and the] supports needed to allow for these choices.” This plan is a commitment from the State of Minnesota in fulfilling (Olmstead Plan Aug 2015, Subcommittee Vision Statement
Not required just because a person has a disability.
A person might have significant impairments, but already have the supports they need. For example, a person with dementia might forget to eat. Family members set up a meal service, and check in with them on a regular basis. A person is injured in car accident and is in a coma. A signed healthcare directive lets the hospital know who that person wanted to make medical choices. (524.5-310 sub a, c
Not the end of the conversation.
Under Minnesota’s bill of rights for wards and protected persons, guardians and conservators have the duty to consult the individual and consider their wishes when making choices. Services must be individually suited to the person’s needs. A guardian or conservator must remain open to input from the person they serve, even if they disagree strongly. (524.5-120
Minnesota law requires a person requesting an order for guardianship or conservatorship to explain what powers they are requesting, and why they are needed. Some decisions always require the court’s permission, and the individual retains any right not specifically granted to the guardian or conservator. (524.5-120
, 524.5-313 c4
Minnesota law requires that whenever feasible, that orders for guardianship and conservatorship be tailored so that they will encourage the development of the ward's maximum self-reliance and independence. Guardians must report to the court at least every year on the well-being of the individual they serve, and tell the court if the persons needs have changed. Conservators must report to the court at least once a year reporting income and expenses. The judge can remove or change an order that does not line up with what that person needs. And the individual under guardianship or conservatorship can always ask the court to remove or change their order. (524.5-310 c
Not an easy process.
The duties of a guardian or conservator are very serious and are conducted under the court’s supervision. This means they must respond to questions the court asks, file timely reports on how money is being spent, and follow instructions or orders carefully.(524.5-313