Guardianship & Conservatorship FAQs

What is a guardian?

A guardian is appointed by the court to make personal decisions for a ward. The guardian has authority to make decisions on behalf of the person about such things as where to live, medical decisions, training, and education.

What is a ward?

Wards are minors or incapacitated adults who have a court appointed guardian, lack sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible personal decisions, and who have an inability to meet personal needs for medical care, nutrition, clothing, shelter, or safety.

What is a conservator?

A conservator is appointed to make financial decisions for a protected person. The conservator typically has the power to enter into contracts, pay bills, invest assets, and perform other financial functions for the protected person.

What is a protected person?

Protected persons are those individuals who have had conservators appointed for them because they lack similar capacity and have demonstrated an inability to make decisions regarding their financial affairs or estate.

How does one become a guardian or conservator?

A person must request to become a guardian or conservator through a petition to the court. In most cases, the petition should be for a general guardianship or conservatorship. However, if the matter is urgent, the petitioner can request appointment as an emergency guardian/conservator.

Can a person serve as both a guardian and a conservator in the same case?

A petitioner can request appointment as a guardian only, as conservator only, or as both. There’s no magic formula for deciding this—the decision should be made in consultation with an attorney on a case-by-case basis. Consider what rights are at issue in a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding and note that the appointed guardian or conservator can have full or limited powers.

Any recent changes to the petitioning process?

In August 2016, the court changed the requirements of the petition to include a statement as to whether the ward or protected person should be allowed to vote. This highlights the serious nature of petitioning to be a guardian or conservator—the complex process literally restricts a person’s civil rights.

CREDIT: Some of the content of this post has been copied or adopted from the Minnesota Judicial Branch