Minnesota law (2020) states that less restrictive alternatives must be considered and tried prior to pursuing guardianship/conservatorship to ensure there is no other way to provide for the care, safety, and financial management of the person. Once the less restrictive alternatives have been tried, the court requires an explanation of which alternatives were tried and for how long, why they did not work, and what unmet need(s) the person still has that cannot be addressed without guardianship. Less restrictive alternatives to guardianship and conservatorship include:
- Use of a Health Care Directive (formerly known as power of attorney for health care or living will) and/or the development of a Supported Decision Making plan to identify people who can help the person with decision making
- Working with a geriatric care manager to recommend, arrange, and monitor services
- Trustworthy family, close friends, or others help ensure bills are paid, checks are deposited, etc.
- Banking tools such as automatic payment of regular bills, direct deposit of income checks, and joint accounts enable a trusted person to pay bills
- Representative payee to manage governmental income benefits
- Power of Attorney
Many of the alternatives to guardianship/conservatorship require the person’s cooperation and some cognitive capacity. In addition, these alternatives require caution due to the potential for financial exploitation. Regardless of what tool is selected, having multiple people involved can offer checks and balances to help prevent abuses, and reduce stress or burnout for the supporters.
To see the 2020 Minnesota statute regarding guardianship and lesser restrictive alternatives, click here.