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What Does it Mean to Be a Guardian/Conservator?

For some members of our society, legal protection may be necessary even after they have entered adulthood.  These individuals may have been injured in an accident, continue to suffer from an incapacitating physical illness or psychological disorder, or have some other condition that prevents them from caring for themselves. In these cases, a guardianship may be established. 

Guardians and Protected Persons in Minnesota

Guardianship is a legal arrangement that places an individual, also known as a ward or protected person, under the supervision of a guardian.  Keep in mind that the term guardianship refers to the guardianship of the person. Specifically, this involves making decisions (medical, housing etc...) for the care over the persons needs.

A guardian is typically a family member, friend, or fiduciary appointed by the court.  A protected person can be a minor without a parental guardian or an adult who can no longer make safe and sound decisions about his or her own person or property.  Additionally, a person may be placed under guardianship who is prone to fraud or undue external influence. 

While guardianship does attempt to maintain the protected person’s independence, it should only be considered in appropriate cases, as it may significantly impinge upon rights of the individual. 

Appointment of a guardian can materially limit the rights and privileges of the protected individual in areas such as:

  • Choosing residence
  • Providing informed consent to medical treatment
  • Making end-of-life decisions
  • Making property transactions
  • Obtaining a driver’s license
  • Owning, possessing, or carrying a firearm or other weapon
  • Contracting or filing law suits
  • Marriage
  • Voting

Right to Due Process

To safeguard the protected person’s right to due process, he or she may be entitled to notice of, and ability to attend all legal proceedings related to guardianship.  In addition, the protected person may obtain representation by an attorney, present evidence, and confront and cross-examine all witnesses.

Guardianship of the Person

Guardianship of the person often relegates the following responsibilities to the appointed guardian:

  • Determining and maintaining residence
  • Providing informed consent to and supervising medical treatment
  • Consenting to and supervising non-medical services such as education, psychiatric or behavioral counseling
  • Making end-of-life decisions
  • Paying debts and other expenses
  • Maintaining the protected person’s autonomy as much as possible

The guardian may be required to report to the court about his or her activities on an annual basis.

Conservatorship Over the Protected Person's Estate or Property

Having the right to control the estate or property transfers the following responsibilities to the conservator:

  • Organizing, gathering and protecting assets
  • Arranging appraisals of property
  • Safeguarding property and assets from loss, whenever possible
  • Managing income from assets
  • Making appropriate payments
  • Obtaining court approval prior to any sale of major assets
  • Reporting to the court the estate’s status on a regular basis

Guardianship of Minors

Guardianships may also be used to protect the legal rights of a minor.  In the event that a parent is no longer able to act on behalf of his or her child, a guardian, usually a relative, is appointed.  Unlike an adoption, under a guardianship, parents may remain responsible for supporting the child financially and they do not necessarily forfeit their parental rights.

A minor may be considered for legal guardianship if his or her parent cannot provide shelter, does not have a steady income, suffers from an illness, or is incarcerated.  In most instances, parental approval is sought prior to any legal proceedings. 

If you are interested in a legal guardianship consultation, contact us today by filling out a contact form or calling us at (952) 260-2043 with any questions you might have. Feel free to check out our fees page for pricing information.


From within Hennepin County Unique Estate Law represents clients throughout Minnesota, including Minneapolis, Edina, Bloomington, St. Louis Park, Minnetonka, Plymouth, Wayzata, Maple Grove, St. Paul, and Brooklyn Park.


9.3Chris Tymchuck

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3800 American Blvd., Suite 1500, Bloomington, MN 55431
| Phone: 952-358-7400
333 Washington Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401
| Phone: 952-358-7400
5775 Wayzata Blvd., St. Louis Park, MN 55416
| Phone: 952-358-7400

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9.3Chris Tymchuck