Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Guardianship (Minnesota)

We went through the Minnesota guardianship procedure with #1. He was anxious and sad — both appropriate. The procedure went better than we’d expected and he was in good spirits afterwords. A few notes if this is on your radar:

  • It’s a courtroom legal procedure with two “opposing” attorneys and a judge. In most cases of uncontested special needs guardianship the attorneys are probably cooperating rather than truly oppositional, but legally they are opposed. We had our lawyer and #1 had his lawyer.
  • We used a legal procedure the county recommended for #1’s lawyer - In forma pauperis. Since he has no assets he can get a court appointed counsel. His lawyer was respectful, supportive, professional and obviously experienced.
  • We paid for our lawyer, using a firm recommended by #1’s county social worker who does this work. By legal standards his fee was low and he was happy to do everything by phone and email. We met him briefly just before the hearing.
  • We visited the parking area and building the day before, driving by with the whole family. This always helps #1 — he likes to know what’s coming up. We were lucky that one person went ahead of us, so we saw the routine. In some cases it might be helpful to observe a hearing beforehand, I believe they are public.
  • The lawyer and judge referred to documents rather than explicitly stating detailed disability — I was concerned some of the topics raised would be hurtful but they were referenced by document.
  • The proceedings were thoughtful and respectful, but probably lasted about 10 minutes. I’d heard of experiences where a guardianship candidate would be repeatedly reminded of restrictions ahead, but in this case #1 was just reminded that he could petition yearly for judicial review. We have paperwork to file yearly.