What is a guardian?

A guardian is someone who has been given legal court authority to make some or all personal decisions for an individual (ward) who is unable to make his or her own decisions because of an injury, illness or disability.

Guardianship is a legal relationship made by the district court that gives Catholic Charities the responsibility of making decisions regarding the personal affairs of the ward. This can include medical care, shelter and safety. The guardian acts as an agent of the court. The guardian has the responsibility to make decision in the best interest of the ward while considering ward’s preferences and needs.

What is a Ward?

A ward is a person who has a guardian. The court will appoint a guardian when it has been determined that the ward is not capable of making personal decisions such as medical, health or residential.

What is a conservatorship? 

A conservator is someone who has been given legal and court authority to make decisions regarding the protected person’s property and financial affairs.

What is a Protected Person?

A protected person is a person who has a conservator. The court will appoint a conservator when it has been determined that an individual is not able to manage his or her own finances. The conservator acts as an agent of the court. The conservator has a fiduciary responsibility to conserve and manage the personal’s estate and is accountable to the court for the management of the estate.

What do I do if I think my loved one needs a guardian or a conservator?

The court action begins with filing petition. Any interested person can act as the petitioner. The Minnesota Judicial Branch website contains the forms and instructions for filing a petition for guardianship or conservatorship. Go to http://www.mncourts.gov/Help-Topics/Guardianship-and-Conservatorship.aspx and choose the Forms tab.

Is Guardianship or Conservatorship permanent?

No. A ward or protected person has the right to petition the court at any time for restoration to capacity. A judge will make a determination as to whether or not the ward or protected person still needs a guardian or conservator.

Does the Guardian/Conservator Program charge a fee?

Yes, Catholic Charities requires a fee for our services. The fee is determined according to the ward/protected persons income and assets. Many of our clients qualify for financial assistance in regard to our fees through their county of residence.

Do I have to be Catholic to use your services?

No. We serve people regardless of their faith or religious background.

Does Catholic Charities provide Guardian ad Litem services?

No. A guardian ad litem is a person who is appointed by the court to be an advocate for a child who is involved in court proceedings. Catholic Charities provides guardianships and conservatorship for adults only.

Does Catholic Charities provide Representative Payee services?

No. We currently serve only as court appointed conservators.

What is the difference between a Power of Attorney and a Conservatorship?

A power of attorney is a voluntary choice by a competent adult.  should the person become incapacitated to the point where you cannot tend to your own financial affairs. A guardianship generally comes about because a person is already incapacitated.