Minnesota Statutes (“M.S.”) Section 524.5-207 identifies the available powers, and required duties, of Minnesota guardians of minors.

Minnesota Guardians of Minors

Minnesota Guardians of Minors;

Powers and Duties

Minnesota Statutes (“M.S.”) Section 524.5-207 identifies the available powers, and required duties, of any guardian for a minor child.

General Powers of Guardians

M.S. Section 524.5-207, Subd. 1 identifies the general nature of the powers that a guardian for a minor may exercise, by providing in part as follows:

A guardian of a minor has the powers and responsibilities of a parent who has not been deprived of custody of the minor and unemancipated child, except that a guardian is not legally obligated to provide from the guardian’s own funds for the ward.

Court Limitations of Powers

While the above provision grants to a guardian for a minor child the same broad powers as a parent, M.S. Section 524.5-206(b) identifies that the court may temporarily limit, or expand, such powers in order to promote the independence of the ward, by providing as follows:

In the interest of developing self-reliance of a ward or for other good cause,

the court, at the time of appointment or later, on its own motion or on motion of the minor ward or other interested person,

  • may limit the powers of a guardian otherwise granted by this article and
  • thereby create a limited guardianship.

Following the same procedure, additional powers may be granted or existing powers may be withdrawn.

Parental Limitations of Powers

In addition, M.S. Section 524.5-202(a) identifies that a parent can limit the powers to be granted to a guardian for a minor child appointed by a parent, by providing in part as follows:

The appointment may specify the desired limitations on the powers to be given to the guardian.

Specific Duties and Powers of Guardians

M.S. Section 524.5-207, Subd. 2 identifies:

  • specific powers that a guardian for a minor child may exercise, and
  • certain duties that are required of a guardian for a minor child.

1.   Personal and Other Property

M.S. Section 524.5-207, Subd. 2(a) identifies specific duties that Minnesota Guardians of Minors (the “ward“) must satisfy with respect to the ward’s personal property, by providing in part as follows:

The guardian must

  • take reasonable care of the ward’s personal effects and
  • commence protective proceedings if necessary to protect other property of the ward.

2.   Funds Receivable

M.S. Section 524.5-207, Subd. 2(b) identifies specific powers that Minnesota Guardians of Minors may exercise with respect to funds payable to or for the benefit of the ward, by providing in part as follows:

The guardian may receive money payable for the support of the ward to the ward’s parent, guardian, or custodian under the terms of any statutory benefit or insurance system, or any private contract, devise, trust, conservatorship, or custodianship and also may receive money or property of the ward paid or delivered by virtue of section 524.5-104. 

3.   Limitations on Funds Collectible by a Guardian

M.S. Section 524.5-104 identifies limitations on the power of the guardian to receive certain property on behalf of a minor, by providing in part as follows:

524.5-104 Facility of transfer.

(a)      A person required to transfer money or personal property to a minor may do so, as to an amount or value not exceeding

  • $5,000 per year or
  • a different amount that is approved by the court,

by transferring it to: . . .  (2) a guardian of the minor;

4.   Limited Role of a Guardian

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has identified the limited role of Minnesota Guardians of Minors in managing a ward’s property:

 A guardian has only limited ancillary power to care for a ward’s personal effects and handle certain monies to provide for the ward’s continued health, safety, and welfare.

 In re the GUARDIANSHIP and/or Conservatorship of Millicent S. FICKEN, No. A07-1848. Sept. 16, 2008. (Minn.Ct.App.) (unpublished), citing Minn.Stat. 524.5-207 (2006).

5.   Broad Role of a Guardian

In contrast, the Minnesota Court of Appeals has identified the expansive role of a conservator in managing a minor’s property:

A conservator, on the other hand, has broad power to manage almost every aspect of a protected person’s property, including his or her real property, debts, and investments.

 In re the GUARDIANSHIP and/or Conservatorship of Millicent S. FICKEN, No. A07-1848. Sept. 16, 2008. (Minn.Ct.App.) (unpublished), citing Minn.Stat.  524.5-417 to 524.5-418 (2006).

6.   Funds Received

M.S. Section 524.5-207, Subd. 2(b) also identifies specific duties that a guardian for a minor child must satisfy with respect to funds payable to the ward, by providing in part as follows:

Any sums received must be applied to the ward’s current needs for support, care, and education.

The guardian must exercise due care to conserve any excess for the ward’s future needs unless

  • a conservator has been appointed for the estate of the ward,
  • in which case the excess must be paid at least annually to the conservator.

Money received by the guardian under this paragraph must not be used for compensation for the guardian’s services except

  • as approved by court order or
  • as determined by a duly appointed conservator other than the guardian.

7.   Legal Action for Support

M.S. Section 524.5-207, Subd. 2(b) identifies that Minnesota Guardians of Minors may commence legal action in order to obtain funds otherwise payable to the ward, by providing in part as follows:

A guardian may institute proceedings to compel the performance by any person of a duty to support the ward or to pay sums for the welfare of the ward.

8.   Application for Governmental Benefits

M.S. Section 524.5-207, Subd. 2(e) identifies that Minnesota Guardians of Minors may make application for government benefits on behalf of the ward, by providing in part as follows:

If there is no acting conservator of the estate for the ward, the guardian has the power to apply on behalf of the ward for any assistance, services, or benefits available to the ward through any unit of government.

9.   Education and Medical Care

M.S. Section 524.5-207, Subd. 2(c) identifies specific powers that Minnesota Guardians of Minors may exercise with respect to the education or medical care of the ward, by providing in part as follows:

The guardian is empowered to facilitate the ward’s education, social, or other activities and to authorize medical or other professional care, treatment, or advice.

10.  Limitations on Medical Care

M.S. Section 524.5-207, Subd. 2(c) identifies certain limitations on the powers that Minnesota Guardians of Minors may exercise with respect to the medical care of the ward, by providing in part as follows:

A ward who is less than 16 years of age

  • may be admitted to a treatment facility as an informal patient according to section 253B.04
  • but may not be committed to any state institution except pursuant to chapter 253B.

 No guardian may give consent for psychosurgery,  electroshock, sterilization, or experimental treatment of any kind unless

  • the procedure is first approved by the order of the court,
  • after a hearing as prescribed by section 524.5-313, paragraph (c), clause (4).

M.S. Section 524.5-209(c) identifies additional limitations on the powers that Minnesota Guardians of Minors may exercise with respect to the medical care of the ward, by providing in part as follows:

A guardian of a minor ward may not initiate the commitment of a ward to an institution except in accordance with section 524.5-207.

11.   Liability Limitations of the Guardian

M.S. Section 524.5-207, Subd. 2(c) identifies certain liability limitations applied to a guardian for a minor child with respect to the medical care of the Ward, by providing in part as follows:

A guardian is not liable by reason of consent for injury to the ward resulting from the negligence or acts of third persons

  • unless it would have been illegal for a parent to have consented, or
  • unless the guardian fails to comply with the requirements of this section which provide that a court order is necessary for commitment and for certain types of medical procedures.

M.S. Section 524.5-209(b) identifies additional liability limitations applicable to a guardian for a minor child with respect to the medical care of the Ward, by providing in part as follows:

A guardian of a minor ward is not liable to a third person for acts of the ward solely by reason of the relationship.

A guardian of a minor ward is not liable for injury to the ward resulting from the negligence or act of a third person providing medical or other care, treatment, or service for the ward except to the extent that a parent would be liable under the circumstances.

12.   Consent to Marriage or Adoption

M.S. Section 524.5-207, Subd. 2(c) identifies that Minnesota Guardians of Minors may consent to the marriage or adoption of the Ward, by providing in part as follows:

A guardian may consent to the marriage or adoption of the ward.

13.   Reporting Duties

M.S. Section 524.5-207, Subd. 2(d) identifies certain duties that Minnesota Guardians of Minors have to report to the Court regarding the physical and economic well being of the Ward, by providing in part as follows:

A guardian must report the condition of the ward and of the ward’s estate which has been subject to the guardian’s possession or control,

  • as ordered by the court on its own motion or
  • on petition of any interested person and as required by court rule.

Petition for Powers of Guardians

The forms which are customarily used to petition for Letters of Guardianship and subsequent Confirmation of Appointment typically require a recitation of the powers to be granted to the guardian – often in the following manner:

The following powers are needed for a Guardian to protect and supervise the Ward:

All of the rights and powers on behalf of the Ward under Minn. Stat. § 524.5-207.

or

The powers and responsibilities of a parent who has not been deprived of custody of the minor and unemancipated child, except that a Guardian is not legally obligated to provide from the Guardian’s own funds for the Ward;  Minn. Stat. § 524.5-207 subd. 1;

  • Take reasonable care of the Ward’s clothing, furniture, vehicles and other personal effects; Stat. § 524.5-207 subd. 2(a);
  • To receive money payable to, and applied for the benefit of, the Ward’s current support, care and education needs; Stat. § 524.5-207 subd. 2(b).
  • Give any necessary consent to enable, or to withhold consent for, the Ward to receive necessary medical or other professional care, counsel, treatment, and to facilitate the Ward’s education, social, or other activities; Stat. § 524.5-207 subd. 2(c);
  • Report the condition of the Ward and the Ward’s estate upon the Court’s own motion or on petition of an interested person and by court order; Stat. § 524.5-207 subd. 2(d);
  • Apply on behalf of the Ward for any assistance, services, or benefits available to the Ward through any unit of government (only given if no conservator is appointed with this power); Stat. § 524.5-207 subd. 2(e);

and all other powers, duties, and responsibilities conferred on the Guardian under applicable law.

Letters of Authority for Guardians

M.S. Section 524.5-110 identifies the nature of letters of authority issued by a court to Minnesota Guardians of Minors – known as Letters of Guardianship – by providing in part as follows:

The court shall issue appropriate letters of guardianship upon the guardian’s filing of an acceptance of office.

Letters of guardianship must indicate whether the guardian was appointed by the court, a parent, or the spouse.

Any limitation on the powers of a guardian . . . must be endorsed on the guardian’s . . . letters.

Compensation of Guardian

M.S. Section 524.5-209(a), Subd. 1 identifies that Minnesota Guardians of Minors may be entitled to compensation for services rendered, and reimbursement of expenditures made, by providing in part as follows:

A guardian of a minor ward is entitled to

  • reasonable compensation for services as guardian and to
  • reimbursement for expenditures made on behalf of the ward,

in a manner consistent with section 524.5-502.

M.S. Section 524.5-502(c) identifies the circumstances under which Minnesota Guardians of Minors may be awarded compensation for services rendered, and reimbursement of expenditures made, by providing as follows:

M.S. 524.5-502

When the court determines that a guardian or conservator

  • has rendered necessary services or
  • has incurred necessary expenses

for the benefit of the ward or protected person, the court may order reimbursement or compensation to be paid from

  • the estate of the protected person or
  • from the county having jurisdiction over the guardianship or protective proceeding if the ward or protected person is indigent.

M.S. Section 524.5-502(b) provides additional guidance regarding when Minnesota Guardians of Minors may not be awarded compensation for services rendered, and reimbursement of expenditures made on behalf of a minor:

If, however, the court determines that a petitioner, guardian, or conservator has not acted in good faith, the court shall order some or all of the fees or costs incurred in the proceedings to be borne by the petitioner, guardian, or conservator not acting in good faith.

Minnesota Court of Appeals – 2010

In 2010, the Minnesota Court of Appeals cited with approval the following method used by the district court in that case to review the propriety of compensation claimed by a guardian of an adult senior citizen:

. . . the district court’s task here is similar to ruling on attorney fees in estate matters.

In that setting, the probate statutes set forth the basic rule that fees must be “just and reasonable” and establish a five-factor guide:

(1)     the time and labor required;

(2)     the experience and knowledge of the attorney;

(3)     the complexity and novelty of problems involved;

(4)     the extent of the responsibilities assumed and the results obtained; and

(5)     the sufficiency of assets properly available to pay for the services.

In re Guardianship of Doyle, 778 N.W.2d 342, Minn.App.,2010, citing Minn.Stat. 525.515(b) (2008).

Such a method will likely be used by a district court in reviewing the propriety of compensation claimed by a guardian of a minor, as well.

Conclusion – Minnesota Guardians of Minors

Minnesota Guardians of Minors can either be appointed by the Court, or be appointed by parents – subject to court confirmation.

The powers to be granted to any Minnesota guardian can vary considerably, and the court documents required in order to obtain the appointment of a person as a guardian for a minor can be challenging.

If you require assistance with respect to any Minnesota guardianship issues, please contact attorney Gary C. Dahle, at 763-780-8390, or gary@dahlelaw.com.

Copyright 2018 – All Rights Reserved

No claim to the text of statutory provisions, or judicial decisions.

 Gary C. Dahle – Attorney at Law

2704 Mounds View Blvd., Mounds View, MN 55112

Licensed in Minnesota and North Dakota

Phone:  763-780-8390      Fax: 763-780-1735

gary@dahlelaw.com

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Minnesota Guardianship and Conservatorship Links

Minnesota Conservatorships for Adults – https://dahlelaw.com/minnesota-conservatorships-adults/

Minnesota Guardianship and Conservatorship Statutes – Minors: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=524.5-101

Minnesota Guardianship and Conservatorship Statutes – Adults: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=524.5-601

Pacer Center: http://www.pacer.org/

National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America: https://alzfdn.org/