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What powers and duties does a guardian have in Minnesota?

There are certain topics that can be uncomfortable to approach for St. Paul residents. Long term care planning often deals with several of these issues, including death and incapacity, which may not be too pleasant to think about, but which are vital to consider in order for a person's wishes to be respected and protected in the future.

For example, individuals should have an understanding of how guardianship law works, whether they are in the process of designating a person to serve as their guardian in the future, should the need arise, or whether they may need to serve as a guardian for another individual who currently has the need. There are statutes in Minnesota that establish how and when a guardianship can be established for an individual.

Under the statute, guardians are given certain powers to exercise for the incapacitated person, who is known as the ward. These duties and powers may include having custody of the ward and having the ability to establish a residence for the ward. Guardians may also provide for the ward's care, comfort and maintenance, such as providing food, clothing, shelter, health care, recreation and education or rehabilitation. The guardian may satisfy these needs through the use of governmental benefits and services.

Guardians also may be given powers and duties over the ward's possessions, such as clothing, furniture, vehicles and other personal property. There are certain requirements that apply when the guardian wants to dispose of these items, and there can be an overlap between the guardian's duties and powers in this regard and those of a conservator.

Ultimately, courts tend to provide guardians with only those powers and duties that are needed under the circumstances. Guardians report to the court, and therefore the court is given a great deal of authority in establishing the terms of the guardianship.

Source: The Office of Revisor of Statutes, "524.5-313 Powers and duties of guardian," accessed on Feb. 7, 2015

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