Guardianship/Conservatorship for Minors
When a minor does not have a responsible parent or adult to make daily living decisions for him or her, then that minor may be in need of a guardian. When a minor owns property or needs representation in a legal action, then that minor may need a conservator.
In which county should I file to open a guardianship?
A petitioner would file a guardianship petition in either the county where the minor resides (i.e., where they live) or is present.†
In which county should I file to open a conservatorship?
A petitioner would file
a conservatorship petition in the county where the minor resides (i.e., where
they live).† If the minor resides outside
What is the difference between a guardian and a conservator?
Generally, it can be said that the guardian makes decisions about the person, such as medical or housing decisions, and the conservator makes decisions about the property or the finances of the minor. A guardian and a conservator can be the same person or institution or they may be different. For example, a guardian could be a person and a conservator could be a trust company or bank.
How are guardians and conservators appointed?
A guardian or conservator may be appointed by a Probate Judge after a petition is filed in the Probate Court. The petition may be filed by anyone interested in the well-being of the minor, except that one type of guardianship (limited) may only be requested by a parent having custody or by both parents if both parents have custody. For a limited guardianship, the court must approve a placement plan for the minor, including how long the guardianship is to last.
When the petition is
filed, a hearing will be scheduled as soon as possible (in some emergency
cases, it may be possible to obtain an immediate temporary guardian before the
hearing). The person who files the petition has the responsibility to
properly notify the persons who have a right to know about the hearing. IN
GUARDIANSHIP CASES, IF A PARTY IS INCAR
On the date of the hearing, the petitioner and anyone else who wants to take part in the hearing goes before the Judge and explains the need for a guardian or conservator. The person who is appointed guardian is required to file an Acceptance of Appointment. The person who is appointed conservator must file an Acceptance of Appointment and may also be required to file a Bond to protect the minorís assets. After filing the Acceptance of Appointment (and Bond, if required), Letters of Authority will be issued to the guardian or conservator. The Letters of Authority give the guardian or conservator the right to perform the following duties, unless the court restricts their authority.
What are the duties of a guardian?
1. The guardian generally has the same authority and responsibility as a parent for a minor except that a limited guardian cannot consent to a minorís marriage or adoption. A regular guardian cannot consent to a minorís adoption without the courtís permission.
2. The guardian is required to file every year an Annual Report of Guardian on Condition of Minor. The report must be filed within 56 days of the anniversary date of the appointment. The information contained in the report allows the court to assess how the guardianship is working and whether it is still necessary.
The court will also review a guardianship each year if the child is less than six years old, and for older children as it thinks necessary.
What are the duties of a conservator?
1. Within 56 days of being appointed, the conservator must file an Inventory. The Inventory is a listing of all assets of the minor. Assets may consist of real estate, stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, savings and checking accounts and personal belongings and everything in which the minor has an interest.
2. It is the duty of the conservator to care for and preserve all of the assets of the minor and to represent the minor in any legal proceeding.
3. The conservator must keep careful records of all income of the minor and all disbursements of the minorís funds. The conservator must keep the minorís assets separate from his or her own and never ďborrowĒ from the minorís assets.
4. It is the duty of the conservator to file an Annual Account each year within 56 days after the anniversary date of the conservatorís appointment.
The Account must list receipts (monies in) and disbursements (monies out). Save your receipts; one must be presented to the court for each disbursement.
When may a guardianship or conservatorship be terminated?
Anyone, including the minor who is at least 14 years of age, may file a petition to modify the guardianship or conservatorship or to have a different guardian or conservator appointed. With the courtís permission, the guardian may resign at any time. When the minor reaches 18 years of age or dies, the court should be notified so that the guardianship or conservatorship can be ended and the courtís case closed. Before the conservator can be discharged, a Final Account will have to be filed and approved by the court and the court will have to be satisfied that the minor (now adult) or his or her estate has received whatever assets remain.
Do I need an attorney?
If you have questions that this pamphlet did not answer, please seek legal advice from an attorney. By law, court employees are not permitted to give legal advice.
How much time should I plan on spending at the court to open a guardianship and\or conservatorship?
The courtís hours are 8:00 a.m. Ė 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Ė 4:30 p.m., excluding weekends and holidays. Early morning is the best time to come to the court. Plan on coming no later than mid-afternoon.
How do I get certified copies of court documents?
They can be obtained in person or mailed to:
Attn: Probate Counter
1307 Coleman A. Young Municipal Center
If the request is mailed in, the court will send you a bill.