The term guardian refers to somebody who cares for an incapacitated person, known as a ward, in all or most personal matters. This could include simple things like what the ward will eat and wear, and it can cover more important decisions, like where the ward lives and what type of medical treatment he or she receives. The guardian must also make any decision about the ward’s rehabilitation, training and education.
A person who controls somebody else’s finances is a conservator of the estate. The conservator keeps track of all of the protected person’s assets and pays all reasonable living and education expenses in a way that fits with the estate and the person’s station. The state can name a conservator for an estate without finding the protected person incompetent, meaning he or she can still vote, marry and even make a will unless a court order states that the person is not fit to do so.
The court can assign a temporary guardian or conservator in emergency situations where the person or estate would suffer imminent harm without one. It will only allow this person the specific powers necessary to prevent the harm, and this generally does not exceed 60 days. These powers end either when the period ends or when the court appoints a general guardian or conservator.
An attorney may be able to help plan for a guardianship as part of the estate planning process. This can ensure that the guardian knows exactly how to handle whatever situations arise without needing to guess at what the ward would want. It also allows the person to nominate somebody as the guardian so that it can be somebody who is familiar with the person’s wishes.
Source: Minnesota Judicial Branch, “CONSERVATORSHIP AND GUARDIANSHIP IN MINNESOTA“, October 30, 2014