MN: Tips for Guardians & Conservators Billing

Seems like a lot of negative press lately for guardians and conservators. This recent Star Tribune article on guardians in Aitkin county is the latest. One of the guardianships referred to in the article was recently addressed in a published Court of Appeals of Minnesota opinion, In the Matter of the Guardianship and Conservatorship of Harold F. Doyle. In Doyle, the Court of Appeals examined the issues of: 1) whether a district court can sua sponte (on its own initiative) examine and disallow fees and expenses of guardians/conservators in an annual account (the Court held that it could); 2) whether the court can rely on documents that are not part of the record (the Court held that the district court could rely on the County’s Service Fee Policy in deciding the appropriateness of a guardian’s fees, since that policy was referred to in the guardianship statute. However the Court held that the district court erred in relying on MAGIC Standards of Practice in it’s decision, when those Standards had not been introduced by a party as evidence or authority, and the parties did not have an opportunity to review and/or comment on the Standards); 3) whether the district court properly rejected accounts and disallowed certain fees and expenses (the Court remanded, but gave guidance on what the district court should consider).

After reading the Doyle case, I’ve put together some tips for Guardians and/or Conservators billing for their services:

1) Determine whether there are Service Fee Policies or similar policies governing payment of guardians in the county in which you were appointed.

2) Review and be familiar with the MAGIC Standards of Practice. While they aren’t guidelines that courts can take judicial notice of, they are instructive and are put out by a reputable non-profit organization that addresses guardianships and conservatorships in Minnesota.

3) Always bear in mind that your fees and expenses need to have been rendered for necessary services or necessary expenses for the benefit of the ward.

4) Always keep detailed, meticulous and organized records of your fees and expenses.

5) Save receipts for every expense.

6) Keep detailed time records. Not “worked on ward’s case”, but instead “Made telephone calls to social security to straighten out mix up with monthly social security check.” Etc.

7) Your hourly fee should be in line with what other guardians with your experience are charging for similar cases.

Remember, in the end, it boils down to this: You are a fiduciary for the ward/protected person. It is the ward’s money, not yours. At the end of the day you should feel comfortable explaining to the Court why you charged for every penny that you did, and you should have the documentation to support it.

Full Article and Source:
Tips for Guardians and Conservators Billing the Ward for Their Fees and Expenses

4 Responses to “MN: Tips for Guardians & Conservators Billing”

  1. Thelma Says:

    >Compliments to the Star Tribune for that article.

  2. wisernow Says:

    >All of this is on the word of the guardian/conservator and in my book that is a recipe for a disaster, opportunities to lie, falsify work records but it's better than nothing.

  3. StandUp Says:

    >You know, bad guardians know what they're doing when they overcharge, double-bill, or just outright defraud.It's nice to see an artitle trying to steer 'em straight, but unfortantely, the bad guys don't care.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    >the bad guys are lauging all the way to their money box

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