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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

What are the legal powers in conservatorships?

In Minnesota, there are times when it is necessary for a person to be named a conservator of another person for the person's protection. There can be a number of reasons for this. It is important to understand the state law and what the conservator's legal role is. This is important in the event that others believe that there might be fraud or undue influence being perpetrated by the conservator. When this occurs, it is the foundation for a legal dispute.

The conservator is under the direction and control of the court on all matters. The powers granted to the conservator are those that are deemed to be necessary for the person to be protected. A conservator can be appointed if it is necessary in order for the needs of the protected person to be provided - it can also be done if there are only partial needs that need to be provided for. The conservator will have certain duties. The conservator is responsible for paying for maintenance, education, and support of the person based on their life station and based on the estate's value.

Parents cannot be released from these obligations when it comes to their children. The conservator is not obligated to make payments out of their own money. If the conservator fails to fulfill the duties, then he or she can be removed. The conservator must pay the debts out of the person's estate. Management of the estate and collection of debts or claims fall into the responsibility of the conservator. If there is real estate, the conservator has the ability to sell it in the interest of the protected person. The conservator can refuse to allow the protected person to enter into a contract or agreement if it is not in his or her best interest.

A conservator is able to terminate, suspend, or revoke a durable power of attorney. Transactions that the protected person made during the two years before the conservatorship was implemented can be set aside. These are just baseline details of what it is a conservator does when appointed to protect another person. While the law is clear on these matters, every situation is different and others might have a reason to dispute conservatorships or the conservator might need legal help. Speaking to a legal professional regarding these matters is imperative.

Source: revisor.mn.gov, "524.5-417 General Powers and Duties of Conservator," accessed on July 21, 2015

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