Minor Conservatorships are
created so that someone, usually their parent, can preserve
significant assets that belong to a minor ward and increase
their value as much as possible before turning them over to the
ward when he or she turns 18 years of age. The money that is
the subject of a conservatorship belongs to the minor ward, not
to the conservator, and generally may not be used to provide
routine care and support for the minor.
The proper venue to file a
petition for conservatorship is the county where the minor
resides. If the minor lives out of state the proper venue
is the place where property of the minor is located.
Any person interested in
the estate of a minor, or the minor themselves if they are 14
years of age or older, may petition the court for the
appointment of a conservator. File a case using the
Petition for Appointment of Conservator (PC 639).
There is a $150 filing fee that must be paid when the petition
is filed. The Probate Court accepts payment by cash,
check or money order.
The petitioner must give
notice of the time and place of the conservatorship hearing to
all interested parties, the individual to be protected if 14
years of age or older and the nominated conservator.
MCR 5.125 (C) (24). The biological father of a child
born out of wedlock need not be served notice of proceedings in
which the child's parents are interested persons unless his
paternity has been determined in a manner provided by law.
MCR 5.125 (B) (4).
In special circumstances
other people who must be notified are the Administrator of
Veteran's Affairs if benefits are payable by the Veterans
Administration to the respondent, guardian, conservator, or
guardian ad litem of a person who is an interested person, an
attorney who has filed an appearance with the court, and
special fiduciary and any person who has filed a request for
notice with the court. MCR 5.125.
If the Court determines
that the minor's interest is or may be inadequately represented
the Court may appoint a lawyer guardian ad litem to represent
the best interest of the minor.
Once the petition is filed
with the Court, along with the filing fee, and the interested
parties have been served with the petition and notice of
hearing the court holds a hearing. At the hearing the
Court may deny the petition so that no conservator is
appointed, or grant the petition and appoint a conservator.
An individual or a
corporation authorized to act as a fiduciary may be appointed
to act as conservator in the following order or priority: a
conservator or similar fiduciary for the minor who has been
appointed or recognized by another court, the individual or
corporation who has been nominated by the protected person if
they are 14 years of age or older and of sufficient mental
capacity to make an intelligent choice including a nomination
made in a Durable Power of Attorney, a parent of the protected
individual or a person nominated by the Will of a deceased
person, a relative of the protected person with whom he or she
resided for more than 6 months before the petition is filed, a
person nominated by the person who is caring for or paying
benefits to the protected individual or if none of the
aforementioned persons or corporations are suitable and willing
to serve then the court may appoint any person willing to serve
who the court determines is suitable. MCL 5409.
The Court may appoint a
conservator if it finds that the minor owns money or property
requiring management or protection that cannot otherwise be
provided, has or may have business affairs that may be
jeopardized or prevented by minority, or needs money for
support and education and that protection is necessary or
desirable to obtain or provide money. MCL 700.5401(2).
The Court may appoint a conservator if a basis for the
appointment is proven by clear and convincing evidence.
If the Court appoints a
person or persons to be conservators of a minor the judge will
sign Letters of Conservatorship PC (645) and Order
Regarding Appointment of Conservator (PC 640.) In
Lapeer County the Letters and the Order are signed at the
conclusion of the hearing the file is brought by court staff
from the courtroom to the Probate Court office where a
certified copy of the Letters are made and given to the
conservator. The conservator signs the Acceptance of
Appointment (PC 571) and the Confidential information
Sheet. The conservator also is provided an opportunity to
view a DVD describing the duties of a guardian/conservator to
the minor ward and to the Court. The Letters of Authority
are restricted so that no funds of the minor may be used unless
by Order of the Court.
It is the policy of the
Lapeer County Probate Court and a "Best Practice" according to
the Michigan State Court Administrator's Office to require that
all of the minor's assets be deposited into restricted
accounts, to prevent withdrawal of the minor's funds without a
prior court order.
The Conservator must
gather secure and list all of the ward's assets within 56 days
of being appointed by the Court and file an Inventory form
(PC 577) with the Court and Proof of Restricted Acct PC
669. Along with the Inventory, the Conservator should
file a tax assessor record showing the current State Equalized
Value for any real estate owned by the ward and copies of bank
statement confirming the value of the assets shown on the
Inventory forum. In addition to filing the Inventory with
the Court the Conservator must serve a copy of the Inventory on
all interested persons and file a Proof of Service from (PC
564) showing that it was served.
Every year that the
conservatorship continues, the Conservator must file with the
Court the Annual Account (PC583) which updates the
Court on any changes to the amount of money in the minor ward's
estate over the preceding year. This form must be filed
each year within 56 days of the anniversary date of appointment
of Conservator. This form must be served on a ward 14
years of age or older and all "interested persons".
Lapeer County Probate
Court will send a delinquency notice to the Conservator when
the Annual Accounting is not filed timely. If the Court
does not receive the Annual Accounting within 28 days from the
delinquency notice being sent, a hearing will be scheduled for
the Conservator to come to court and explain why the form was
not timely filed.
A minor conservatorship
typically terminates on the minor's 18th birthday. When
the minor turns 18 the Conservator must file a Final
Account (PC 648) along with a bank statement verifying the
amount in the account, and a Receipt of Ward and Discharge
(PC 649) signed by the minor showing that they received
their assets in full.