While guardians and conservators often seem to be interchangeable, under Minnesota law, the two roles actually have different responsibilities. Guardians are typically meant to care for a ward’s personal needs, while a conservator cares for a protected person’s financial needs. Here, we will explain in more detail.

Guardianship for personal care

In a Minnesota guardianship, the court appoints a guardian to manage the ward’s personal needs. These can include determining and arranging for the ward’s place of residence, making medical decisions, obtaining training and education for the ward, and managing the ward’s nutrition, clothing, and safety.

A person may be made a ward of a guardianship because they are a minor, or because they are an incapacitated adult who does not have the capacity to make responsible decisions for themselves, or to meet their own personal needs.

Conservatorship for financial care

Court-appointed conservators, on the other hand, primarily handle a protected person’s financial needs and responsibilities, like paying bills, making investments, entering contracts, paying taxes and filing annual accounting reports.

A protected person often includes those who cannot handle their finances because they are a minor, or because of a medical condition like disability, dementia, or a traumatic brain injury.

Guardians and conservators for minor children and disabled dependents are often nominated in a person’s estate plan. Other times, interested persons will petition the Courts for appointment as the need arises. Choosing a guardian or conservator is often a difficult decision to make. Take your time in considering your options and talk with your lawyer about who may be the best choice given your unique circumstances.