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Helping You Navigate Complex Legal Issues

October 2014 Archives

Gregory A. Lang

What is the difference between a conservator and a guardian?

Minnesota residents may be interested in some information about the differences between guardians and conservators. While they have some things in common, their purposes are quite different. Both guardians and conservators are appointed as a result of court proceedings to assist someone who is not able to help themselves. This usually happens when the person in question is incapacitated or otherwise unable to perform certain duties or make important decisions. Once evidence of this incapacity is established, the court will make the determination that a guardian or conservator is necessary. The person will then not have the right to make these decisions on their own behalf until their capacity to do so is proven.

What types of guardianships are there?

When people are no longer able to make medical and financial decisions for themselves, someone might petition for a guardianship that grants the petitioner the power to make decisions for the incapacitated person, legally known as a ward. The amount of power is limited by the court and cannot inhibit the ward's personal freedoms or civil rights. In Minnesota, there are several types of guardianships as well as conservatorships.

Using special needs trusts to assist people with disabilities

Many Minnesota parents of children with special needs want to provide financially for their heirs and not interfere with government benefits. A special needs trust established for a person with a disability does not affect his or her eligibility for Social Security or Medicaid.

General considerations for Minnesota probate

Probate is the court-supervised process of distributing a person's assets on death. Probate laws vary from state to state, but they generally require an examination of estate assets and payment of debts before distributions to heirs or beneficiaries. Minnesota's probate laws apply to the estates of Minnesota residents as well as to real property within the state of Minnesota, regardless of the state of residency of the property owner.

How does a will work?

Families in Minnesota may benefit from learning more about how wills work and how people benefit from them. The Office of the Minnesota Attorney General describes wills as the legal documentation enabling someone to distribute assets in the event of their death. This is one of the less complex ways for people to ensure that their belongings, property and money are transferred to whomever they wish after their death.

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