Getting Appointed as a Guardian in Minnesota

Choosing a guardian for your children in case something happens to you is challenging, but it can also bring you peace of mind. Whether you need to adjust your will or are just starting to plan for the future, guardianship can provide a safety net for your children.

Before you choose someone to be a guardian, it’s important to understand what establishing guardianship in Minnesota entails.

What Is Guardianship?

When someone is unable to make their own decisions or care for themselves, a guardian can be appointed by a court. In Minnesota, this legal arrangement allows someone to care for a minor or incapacitated person. The person in the guardian’s care is legally known as their “ward.”

Guardians can be appointed by parents, a standby guardian or the court. Once appointed, a guardian’s status remains intact until it’s officially terminated. Becoming a guardian comes with many duties, including:

  • Taking care of their ward’s personal effects
  • Facilitating their ward’s educational and social activities
  • Authorizing their ward’s medical care and any other professional care
  • If the court orders it, reporting on the condition of their ward
  • Applying for any benefits or services that are available to their ward
  • Receiving and using money to support their ward’s needs, care and education

What Are the Steps to Becoming a Guardian?

Filing to Become a Guardian

Courts are focused on doing what’s in the best interests of the proposed ward. Anyone can petition to be appointed as a guardian, and they may need to provide evidence that guardianship is necessary. The process involves the following steps:

  1. File a petition to request an appointment in the probate court of the proposed ward’s county of residence.
  2. If the ward doesn’t have counsel, the court will appoint them an attorney.
  3. Notice of a court hearing is served at least 14 days before the actual hearing to the proposed ward, their parents, siblings or nearest relative.
  4. At the hearing, the proposed ward can be present. 
  5. If the court determines that a guardian is needed after the hearing, they’ll issue an order and letters of guardianship will be issued.

Appointing a Guardian in Your Will

In Minnesota, parents can establish a guardian for their minor children by appointing them in their will. They can also appoint a guardian in another type of writing, as long as it’s executed in the same manner as a health care directive. This applies to future children a parent hasn’t yet had or adopted.

A parent can specify any limitations on the guardian’s power and can revoke or amend the guardianship before court confirmation. If a parent dies, becomes incapacitated or is no longer able to care for their child as determined by a physician, the guardianship goes into effect. 

Have Questions About Becoming or Naming a Guardian? We Can Help

Are you wondering about becoming a guardian, or thinking about asking someone else to be one? Whatever questions you have, our White & Associates Elk River family law attorneys are here for you. To learn more about guardianship in Minnesota or to speak with an experienced attorney, call us today at 763-241-0477 or send us a message.