How do you start a guardianship?
You come home for the holidays and see your Dad in person for the first time since last year. You notice he is forgetful, and you fear for his safety since he lives alone. A friend tells you to become his guardian? What does it mean to become a guardian? What should you do?
Hire an Experienced Guardianship Lawyer
Your first step should be to speak with a qualified Minnesota Guardianship attorney. The Minnesota guardianship laws are complicated and confusing. You need an attorney who will take the time to walk you through the process and take the stress off your shoulders.
When you work with Unique Estate Law, we will have a call to discuss whether a guardianship is necessary. If so, does it need to be a full guardianship or is there a way to only have a limited one? You will be stating to the court that you believe your father is no longer capable of handling his own matters. This can be traumatic for all involved, so you want to be sure to work with an attorney who offers more than just legal guidance.
If you decide to pursue a guardianship, we will work to ensure the stress of the process does not fall on you. It is my job to make it as simple as possible for you to work through the legal complexities of a guardianship.
The Paperwork to Become a Guardian
We will work with you to draft and file the petition. The petition is quite detailed and involves facts specific to your case, so we work together to ensure it fully explains why your father needs a guardian. Once we file the petition, the court will give us a hearing date.
The Players Involved in Guardianship Proceedings
The court will appoint another attorney to act on behalf of your father. The court-appointed attorney’s job is to be your father’s voice in court. He or she will interview your dad to determine his knowledge of the proceedings. They will ask whether he wants a guardian. The attorney will come to court and advocate for your father.
The court will also appoint a “court visitor” who is a neutral person tasked with interviewing your dad and filing a report. The visitor may testify on your dad’s mental and physical condition.
The court-appointed attorney for your Dad will also meet with him to get his wishes, if any, for guardianship. It is this attorney’s job to represent your Dad’s wishes to the court even if they contradict yours.
We must send notice of the proceeding to all interested persons (i.e. family members) and your Dad. This gives them an opportunity to object to the proceeding, or to naming you as guardian.
The Guardianship Hearing
All guardianship cases require a hearing. The hearing gives everyone involved an opportunity to object. They may object to the need for a guardian or to the person seeking to become the guardian. If no one objects, the court will ask a few questions then appoint you as the guardian. Once court appoints you as guardian, you power to handle all matters related to your father’s physical needs. This is NOT the same as taking care of his financial needs. That is called a conservatorship and I explain that in another post.
Minnesota Guardianship Attorney
Most of my clients find the process to become a guardian very confusing before they come to me and we walk through it together. If you suspect someone in your family needs a guardian, please contact me right away so we can talk it through together.