NOTICE TO ALL PERSONS ASKING FOR CONSERVATORSHIP OR PROTECTIVE PROCEEDINGS FOR A MINOR
PLEASE READ THIS PACKET BEFORE PROCEEDING
Your petition will NOT be accepted if it is not completed properly. There is a $150.00 filing fee.
As the petitioner (the person asking for conservatorship), it is your duty by law to:
– serve a copy of the petition on all interested parties
– serve a copy of the notice of hearing form (if applicable) on all interested parties
If a hearing is needed, failure to serve interested persons, as required, will result in cancellation of your hearing
A new hearing will be set. If proper service is not given for the second hearing, your petition may be dismissed.
MINOR CONSERVATORSHIP AND
THE INFORMATION IN THIS PACKET IS NOT INTENDED TO BE LEGAL ADVICE.
It is a brief explanation of the basic procedure that is required to obtain a conservator for a minor. This packet is provided for you because the Probate Court cannot discuss these issues fully with persons interested in minor conservatorships. While the court cannot require you to have an attorney, the court cannot act as your attorney. If you do not understand the process after reading this, then you will have to obtain other assistance.
Probate Court personnel cannot give legal advice about your particular situation. The information contained here is the only information court personnel can give you about this procedure
TERMS AND DEFINITIONS
Some terms and definitions used in this packet may be unfamiliar to you. The following terms and phrases are often used on conservatorship matters. Knowing them will help you understand the information in this packet.
PETITION: The form filed with the Probate Court that tells the court why a
conservatorship is necessary and who should be appointed
PETITIONER: The person who signs the petition and brings the matter to the
attention of the court.
RESPONDENT: The subject of the petition who is believed to be an incapacitated
individual for whom the petitioner is seeking a conservator.
CONSERVATOR: Someone appointed by the court to manage another person’s
WARD: Once the judge determines that the respondent is incapacitated and
needs a conservator, he/she is named a ward of the conservator.
GUARDIAN A person appointed by the judge to investigate and represent the
AD LITEM: best interests of the respondent.
PROTECTIVE An order that allows a single purpose or transaction. May be used
ORDER: instead of a conservatorship or with a hearing pending for
WHEN MAY THE COURT APPOINT A CONSERVATOR
OR ISSUE A PROTECTIVE ORDER?
1) When the minor owns money or other property that requires management that cannot otherwise be provided; or
2) When the minor has or may have business affairs which may be jeopardized or prevented by the person’s minority; or
3) When funds are needed for the minor’s support and education and that protection is necessary or desirable to obtain, retain, or provide funds.
ATTORNEY FOR THE PETITIONER
The law regarding conservatorship is quite complicated and the Probate Court and court personnel cannot give you legal advice or act as your attorney. Therefore, it is recommended that the petitioner seek the help of an attorney. This information packet and the forms included are provided to help you understand the procedure involved. It is not a complete statement of the law in this area and it is not intended to teach you the law. If you have legal questions, you will need to speak with an attorney.
FILING THE PETITION (PC639)
The process starts when someone interested in the welfare of a minor who is thought to be in need of a conservator files a Petition for the Appointment of a Conservator. The petition, when completed properly, signed and dated, is filed with the Probate Court in the county where the minor resides at the time of filing. If the minor resides outside the state but owns property to be protected in this state, the petition can be filed in the county where the property is located that needs protecting. The petition must contain specific facts and an example explaining why the petitioner believes the minor is in need of a conservator.
IF WAIVER/CONSENTS ARE OBTAINED FROM THE INTERESTED PERSONS,
A HEARING WILL NOT BE NECESSARY.
Otherwise, after the petition is filed, a hearing is scheduled before the Probate Judge. The hearing normally takes place 4-8 weeks later. The petitioner must serve all persons who are, by law and Supreme Court Rule, entitled to notice of this proceeding. The petitioner must also arrange for the respondent to be present at the hearing, if 14 years and older. At the hearing, the petitioner must present testimony and evidence of the need for a conservator.
NOTICE OF HEARING (PC562)
The petitioner must serve the following people with a copy of the Petition for Appointment of Conservator (PC639) and Notice of Hearing (PC562). The notice of the hearing tells the interested persons where and when the hearing will take place.
– The minor, if age 14 or older, must be served personally. This means physically handing the documents to the minor.
– The parents of the minor
– If neither parent is living, then the presumptive heirs of the minor
– If there are no heirs, then notice must be given to the Attorney General.
If the address of an interested party is unknown, the petitioner must publish a notice (PC563) of the hearing in a newspaper that is circulated in Ionia County. Please call the court if you are unsure if the newspaper you want to use qualifies as a “legal publication” that is circulated in Ionia County.
NOTICE MUST BE PUBLISHED AT LEAST 14 DAYS BEFORE THE HEARING. THE PETITIONER MUST PAY THE NEWSPAPER FOR THIS PUBLICATION IN ORDER FOR THE NOTICE TO BE PUBLISHED IN THE PAPER.
It is the petitioner’s responsibility to ensure that the newspaper sends an Affidavit of Publication to the court prior to the hearing.
PROOF OF SERVICE (PC564)
The original Notice of Hearing must be filed with the court along with a Proof of Service. The Proof of Service will be examined by the court to ensure that all persons were properly served, at least 14 days prior to the hearing date. If the Proof of Service is not filed prior to the hearing, or if everyone did not receive proper service, the court will adjourn the hearing to a later date.
WHO WILL BE APPOINTED CONSERVATOR
The petitioner must locate and nominate a person to be the conservator. If the respondent does not express a preference the priority is:
1) A parent or someone nominated by a parent in his/her will
2) A relative the minor has lived with for 6 months before the petition was filed
3) Someone nominated by the person who is caring for the minor or paying for his/her care.
4) Any competent adult suitable and willing to serve
At the hearing, if the judge is convinced that the proper procedure has been followed and sufficient evidence has been presented, a conservator will be appointed. The appointed conservator will then be required to sign an Acceptance of Appointment. The court will then issue the Letters of Authority. The Letters of Authority is the conservator’s proof that he/she has the authority to make financial decisions for the ward.
After the hearing, you will be given a certified copy of your Letters of Authority. For any future copies you may need, you will be charged a fee of $11.00 per copy.
RESPONSIBILITIES AND AUTHORITY OF THE CONSERVATOR
The conservator has tremendous authority and responsibility. The conservator is accountable to the protected person, the other heirs, and to the court for everything he/she does. The conservator should seek legal advice in this regard to ensure that he/she is properly performing the duties required by law.
The conservator must file an Inventory within 56 days after being appointed, proof of a restricted account within 15 days after receipt of the funds, and must file an Annual Account each year. There is a $20.00 filing fee due when filing the account. The court cannot advise the conservator about exercising his/her authority or about whether or not to take any specific action after appointment.
THE COURT CANNOT ASSIST WITH FILLING OUT THE INVENTORY OR ACCOUNTINGS.
FAILURE TO FILE THE INVENTORY OR ANNUAL ACOUNTS CAN RESULT IN THE SUSPENSION OF THE CONSERVATOR’S AUTHORITY.