Who can petition for guardianship or conservatorship?

Who can petition for the appointment of a guardian or conservator for someone? Do you have to be related to the ward/protected person (the person for whom you are seeking a guardian)?

The statute that provides guidance is Minn. Stat. 524.5-303. As set forth therein: An individual or a person interested in the individual’s welfare may petition for a determination of incapacity, in whole or in part, and for the appointment of a limited or unlimited guardian for the individual.

So who exactly does this mean? “The individual” means the person over whom the guardianship would be imposed can petition for the guardianship itself. (Although the paradox appears to be that if the individual needs a guardian, how can he have the capacity to petition for one? I think the answer here may be that there are some situations where limited guardianships appropriate. Or perhaps the individual has mental capacity, but recognizes that he or she is vulnerable and subject to influence and so they want to be proactive.) “A person interested in the individual’s welfare” would be anyone ranging from immediate family, to extended family, to county social workers, to medical personnel, to neighbors or friends. Essentially anyone who is concerned and has a legitimate basis to be concerned.

The statute does go on to state the the petitioner has to list their relationship to the respondent and a great deal of personal information about the respondent and interested persons (essentially respondent’s next of kin). Implied in the statute, as with any legal paper that is filed, is that the individual has to have a good faith basis for the petition. Therefore, a person couldn’t just file a petition for guardianship against a politician because the person disagreed with his political views and thought he must lack capacity to think the way he does (you laugh, but I have received a call from someone wanting to do just that!)

If you have specific questions about who can file a petition for guardianship or conservatorship in Minnesota, please call an experienced guardianship attorney at Matt Legal Services.

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