Probate Court - Conservatorship for Adult or Minor
Filing fee is $185.00 at the time of filing. Probate Court can accept cash, money order or check payable to the Chippewa County Probate Court.
Being a conservator is not a simple role, but one demanding responsibility, patience, ability to work with finances and sensitivity. There are a number of duties you owe to the person you have agreed to assist. There are also duties you owe to the court. How complicated serving as a conservator will be, and how much time it will take, depends on a number of factors: the value of property, the types of assets, the needs of the individual, whether there are dependents, and the extent of cooperation among family members.
When is a conservatorship necessary? When a person cannot manage his or her own financial affairs due to legal incapacity, such as a physical or mental illness or minority, or is unwilling to manage his or her financial affairs a conservatorship may be established.
A person under the age of 18 in Michigan may need to have a conservatorship established if they have money or property which needs to be managed by an adult. A custodial parent, guardian or financial institution may receive up to $5,000 annually on behalf of the minor without the establishment of a conservatorship. Any minor who is to receive $5,000 or more per year would need a conservator. (MCL 700.5102)
Who may file the petitioner? The petitioner may be filed by the individual himself or herself, by any person interested in the person's estate or welfare, a creditor, or the Department of Human Services on behalf of a vulnerable adult.
What happens after the petition is filed with the court? After the Court receives the Petition for Appointment of Conservator and the required filing fee, the Court schedules a hearing and appoints a guardian ad litem. The guardian ad litem visits the individual who is the subject of the petition and explains the nature of the conservatorship and the individual's rights in the process. The guardian ad litem determines whether the individual wishes to be present at the hearing or contests the proceeding in any way, and reports to the court their findings and recommendations.
Who must receive notice? There are certain people entitled to know the hearing is taking place. The petitioner must give notice of the time and place of the hearing on the petition to the individual in need of protection; the presumptive heirs of the individual; the nominated conservator; any governmental agency paying benefits to the individual to be protected.
Additional special persons who may need to be notified are the following: The Veterans Administration if the individual is receiving veterans benefits; any guardian, conservator, or guardian ad litem of an interested person; any attorney who has filed an appearance; or any person who has filed a request for notice.
All interested persons must be served with the notice of hearing 14 days by mail or 7 days personal service prior to the hearing date.
What will happen at the hearing? The petitioner is required to be present at the hearing. The hearing may be short if everyone is in agreement and everything is in order. If proper persons have not been served or the file is not otherwise in order, the case may be postponed or the petition dismissed. If the petition is contested, the hearing may take longer to give all interested parties time to testify. The court will take into consideration the recommendations of the guardian ad litem determination if a guardianship is necessary.
What are the duties of a conservator? A conservator has broad powers to handle all assets held on behalf of the protected individual and to make payments from the assets for the health, benefit, and welfare of the protected individual, including all the powers of a trustee. However, a conservator may not sell the ward's real property unless the conservator obtains court approval after a hearing with notice to the interested persons.
It is important to carefully read the court's order and the document called "Letter of Conservatorship" to see the full extent of the conservator's duties. If the protected individual moves to a different address, the conservator must notify the court.
What documents must be filed with the court? A conservator must file an inventory of the protected individual's assets with the court within 56 days after appointment and must annually file an account of all receipts and disbursements from the estate within 56 days after the end of the account period. Copies of the inventory and annual accounts must be personally served on the protected individual and all other interested persons.
The conservator must request an order allowing the account by filing a petition to allow account. The matter is scheduled for a hearing with notice to the interested persons. A hearing is necessary even if a waiver/consent form can be obtained from all interested persons, since the protected individual cannot provide a valid waiver and the conservator cannot waive and consent on the protected individual's behalf due to the inherent conflict of interest.
A conservator is entitled to reasonable compensation for services rendered to the protected individual in his or her fiduciary capacity. The conservator should submit a statement of the services rendered, indicating the amount of time spent in performing his or her duties on behalf of the protected individual.
Restrictions in minor conservatorships. The court will issue the "Letters of Conservatorship" with the following restrictions: The funds are to be deposited in a Federally Insured Bank, Savings & Loan or Credit Union in a blocked account. The Bank, Savings & Loan or Credit Union shall retain possession of the Certificate of Deposit and file a Proof of Restricted Account and Annual Verification of Funds on Deposit with the Chippewa County Probate Court. The funds on deposit cannot be withdrawn without prior approval of the Chippewa County Probate Court.
When a minor attains the age of majority, 18, the assets in the conservatorship must be turned over to him or her. Ther conservator files a Minor Conservator, Final Account, Waiver and Consent and Order. After the order is signed turning all assets over to the protected person who has recently turned 18, the financial instruction shall close the conservator account and release all funds. The protected person signs a receipt of ward and discharge that he or she is an adult and has received all property from the conservator.