As of August 1, 2020, there have been some amendments to Minnesota’s Guardianship and Conservatorship laws that promote greater independence for people who are subject to a guardianship or a conservatorship.
One of the changes exempts “wages or salary for employment” from the conservatorship estate of a person subject to conservatorship. Now a person who is subject to a conservatorship will receive their wages directly, as if the conservatorship did not exist. A court would still be able to override this exemption if a case’s unique facts warranted it, but this change will allow people who are subject to a conservatorship to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Another change is that Minnesota courts now have the ability to appoint a guardian for a limited time, and if the person is under 30, the initial guardianship cannot last more than 72 months, allowing the court to shape a guardianship to meet the unique needs of the person.
Another change is that the courts must now make “specific findings” as to why a less restrictive alternative to a guardianship or conservatorship wouldn’t work, and to consider whether “supported decision making”—a new legal term—would allow the person’s needs to be met. These changes provide additional protections and due process because they require the petitioner to examine specific, less restrictive alternatives to a guardianship or conservatorship, and for the court to make specific findings as to why those alternatives wouldn’t meet the person’s needs.
Finally, a guardian may no longer restrict the person’s ability to communicate, visit, or interact with others, unless the guardian has good cause to believe the visitor would pose a significant physical, psychological, or financial harm to the person. In such a case, the guardian would have to provide written notice of the restriction, and the person subject to the guardianship (and/or their would-be visitor) would have the right to petition the court to remove the restriction.