When Minnesota seniors are afflicted with Alzheimer's disease, dementia or some other mental disability that makes them incapable of making financial or legal decisions, a guardianship or conservatorship can allow a family member, friend or trusted professional to make these decisions for them. The process is sometimes necessary and can usually do a lot of good. However, it can also cause problems.
A person who is mentally incapable of making legal decisions lacks capacity to make a will. This issue comes up often in family disputes after someone has died and left a will that is legally invalid. Another problem may be that the guardian or conservator does not properly deal with claims of creditors.
For example, some of these issues have come up recently with the family of Hungarian-born actress Zsa Zsa Gabor. Now 96-years-old, Gabor has been ill and bed-ridden for some time. Her lawyer says she is unable to express her wishes and a court has appointed her husband as her conservator. The court recently allowed him to sell the couple's house in an effort to pay off more than $5 million in loans.
Last year, Gabor's daughter filed a petition to have herself appointed her mother's conservator. At the time, she complained that Gabor's husband had missed mortgage payments and taken out imprudent loans. However, the two sides apparently settled their differences last year.
When set up properly and executed faithfully, guardianship and conservatorship arrangements can be necessary and helpful. When they are done poorly or executed in bad faith, they can be financially disastrous and tear a family apart. Minnesota residents who have questions about guardianships or conservatorships should thoroughly research their options.
Source: MyDesert.com, "Judge: Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband can sell their home," April 5, 2013