When Someone Close Needs Special Care And Protection
If you are concerned about the well-being of someone close to you, a guardianship or conservatorship may be an option to consider.
These proceedings often become necessary when an individual lacks or loses the ability to make or communicate responsible personal decisions. Guardianships are most commonly discussed regarding the elderly and children, but guardians can be appointed for people of any age because of mental illness, physical illness, chemical dependency or disability caused by a catastrophic injury.
Parvey, Larson, and McLean, PLLC, from law offices in Fargo, represents individuals and couples throughout this area, both in North Dakota and western Minnesota in a variety of legal issues involving families.
Guardians And Conservators In North Dakota And Minnesota
North Dakota law recognizes both guardians, in place to “guard the person,” and conservators, in place to “conserve the estate.” Guardianships can grant broad authority for all decisions involving residence, education, medical treatment, legal affairs, vocation/employment, and finances, or the court can grant limited authority in some or all of those areas.
Anyone interested in the welfare of another person may ask the court to appoint a guardian. Guardianship proceedings in North Dakota also involve the appointment of the following individuals:
- Guardian ad litem, appointed to advocate for the proposed ward’s best interests
- Court visitor, a nurse or licensed social worker appointed to explain the need for a guardianship
- Expert examiner/medical professional, appointed to examine and assess the proposed ward
In Minnesota, guardians can be appointed to manage one’s personal affairs, and conservators can be appointed to manage one’s finances. When a petition is filed, the court immediately appoints an attorney to represent that respondent’s interests and a court visitor to explain the proceedings to the respondent.
Consider Alternatives When Appropriate
Deciding whether to pursue a guardianship is no easy choice. It’s important to consider whether there are alternatives that might be more applicable for your specific circumstances.
A knowledgeable lawyer can inform you of other avenues such as powers of attorney, health care directives, or some forms of limited decision-making that will allow the person in need of assistance to partially maintain his or her autonomy.
The attorneys at Parvey, Larson, and McLean care about allowing the proposed ward to maintain personal dignity and the ability for self-care, to the extent possible.
For Best Results, Work With An Experienced Attorney
Guardianships can be complex and require specialized knowledge and consideration throughout the process, including advice regarding what type of guardianship or alternative is appropriate in any given circumstance.