Telephone Consultation, Information and Assistance, Referrals
Our staff can spend as much time as needed assisting the caller to understand:
- The guardianship and conservatorship system
- Needs of the adult experiencing difficulties
- Practical intervention tips to assist the caregiver to be more effective in working with the individual
- Approaches to help address the concern which may avoid the need for guardianship/conservatorship, including facilitating less restrictive alternatives
Additionally, our staff offer referrals to appropriate community services, attorneys specializing in elder law/disability law issues, and independent professional guardians/conservators, trustees, and powers of attorney, as needed.
Due to support from the United Way, the Administration for Community Living, and Volunteers of America of Minnesota, there is no charge for these services.
Sometimes a situation could benefit from a closer look to determine whether the person would benefit from a supported decision making plan, or guardianship/conservatorship. Protective Services staff can complete an in-depth, objective assessment of the individual, including seeking extensive input from the individual's formal and informal support system. Focusing on avoiding court and identifying appropriate less restrictive alternatives, staff can develop recommendations to best meet the individual's needs. An assessment by the Protective Services staff can also assist in contested guardianship/conservatorship court cases to enable parties to come to terms of settlement, or provide strength to a position in favor or against the appointment of a guardian/conservator. Hourly fees may apply or may be waived at the discretion of the social worker.
Advocacy and Coaching
The decision to seek the appointment of a guardian or conservator can be overwhelming for families of persons in need of a surrogate decision-maker. When telephone consultation is insufficient, we engage with family members to advocate with involved professionals to determine and implement workable alternatives to court intervention or connect them to our partner, LSS MN, to provide supportive non-legal coaching to family members through the often stressful and confusing petitioning process. Our experience and expertise brings reassurance to family members that they have chosen the best path to meet the needs of their loved one.
When our assessment determines there is no other way to meet the personal and/or financial needs of the individual, and there is no one in the person's life to do so, Center staff can work with an attorney to file a petition with the court seeking the appointment of a guardian and/or conservator.
Guardianship and conservatorship is a court process, which results in the appointment of an individual/organization who has legal authority to make personal (guardian) or financial (conservator) decisions for an incapacitated person who is unable to provide for their own basic needs or financial management. Due to the severity and costs of this intervention, it should only be used when there is no other way to meet an incapacitated person's needs. In Minnesota, Public Guardianship for older adults does not exist. All guardianships/conservatorships are private, regardless of who is appointed as guardian/conservator. Family members or others known to the person may be appointed as guardian/conservator, or an independent (also known as professional) guardian or conservator may be appointed. An independent guardian/conservator charges fees for their service and may be an individual or an organization.
Less Restrictive Alternatives
Less restrictive interventions must be considered and ultimately ruled out prior to pursuing guardianship/conservatorship to ensure there is no other way to provide for the care, safety and financial management of the person with questionable capacity. Less restrictive alternatives to guardianship and conservatorship include:
- The person follows the recommendations of others, or suggests their own ideas to provide for their needs and safety
- Having family or close friends increase their involvement to meet the person's needs
- Use of a Health Care Directive (formerly known as power of attorney for health care or living will) and/or Supported Decision Making Plan development to identify people who can help the person with decision making
- Working with a geriatric care manager to recommend, arrange, and monitor services
- Trustworthy family or close friends help ensure bills are paid, checks are deposited, etc.
- Banking tools such as automatic payment of regular bills, direct deposit of income checks, and joint accounts enable a trusted person to pay bills
- Representative payee to manage governmental income benefits
- Power of Attorney
Many of the alternatives to guardianship/conservatorship require the person's cooperation and some cognitive capacity. In addition, these alternatives require caution due to the potential for financial exploitation.
"Supported Decision Making is a recognized alternative to guardianship where people with disabilities use trusted friends, family members, and professionals to help them understand the situations and choices they face, so they may make their own decisions without the 'need' for a guardian" (Blanck & Martinis, 2015). Supported Decision Making (SDM) is built around the concept that all people need at least occasional help to make decisions, and that even though someone cannot make decisions independently, they may still be able to participate in decision-making. SDM is a person-centered intervention where a person is empowered to make decisions with the support of trusted family/friends/professionals, rather than others making decisions for the person. Minnesota Department of Human Services, in partnership with WINGS MN, has produced a series of training videos about Supported Decision Making; we encourage you to view them: Introduction and Guide to Supported Decision Making in Minnesota. For more information, visit The National Resource Center on Supported Decision Making.
To learn more about supported decision making and how it may work for you or someone you know, please contact the Center for Excellence in Supported Decision Making's Guardianship Information Line at: 952-945-4174 or 844-333-1748 (toll free) or firstname.lastname@example.org
An in-depth training course is offered in fulfillment of county contracts for persons wishing to serve as independent guardians/conservators. The training is offered on an application basis to individuals who would best be able to fulfill the needs of the contracts. The only cost for the training is a materials fee. The training course is held one afternoon/week over six consecutive weeks each Spring in the Minneapolis area. To be added to our mailing list, please email email@example.com. Provide your name and mailing address to receive an application packet in late winter. Visit Minnesota Association for Guardianship and Conservatorship for more information about becoming an independent, or professional, guardian/conservator.
We can tailor a presentation to your time and content needs. Presentations can be as short as one hour or can be as comprehensive as a 16-hour training. Our honorarium may be adjusted or waived at staff discretion.