When may a guardian or conservator be necessary for a minor?
When a minor does not
have a responsible parent or adult to make daily living decisions for him or
her, then that minor may be in need of a guardian. When a minor owns
property or needs representation in a legal action, then that minor may need a
In which county should I file to open a guardianship?
A petitioner would file
a guardianship petition in either the county where the minor resides (i.e.,
where they live) or is present.
In which county should I file to open a conservatorship?
A petitioner would file
a conservatorship petition in the county where the minor resides (i.e., where
they live). If the minor resides outside
but has property in
the petitioner may file a conservatorship in the county where the minor’s
property is located.
What is the difference
between a guardian and a conservator?
Generally, it can be
said that the guardian makes decisions about the person, such as medical or
housing decisions, and the conservator makes decisions about the property or
the finances of the minor. A guardian and a conservator can be the same
person or institution or they may be different. For example, a guardian
could be a person and a conservator could be a trust company or bank.
How are guardians and conservators appointed?
A guardian or
conservator may be appointed by a Probate Judge after a petition is filed in
the Probate Court. The petition may be filed by anyone interested in the well-being
of the minor, except that one type of guardianship (limited) may only be
requested by a parent having custody or by both parents if both parents have
custody. For a limited guardianship, the court must approve a placement
plan for the minor, including how long the guardianship is to last.
When the petition is
filed, a hearing will be scheduled as soon as possible (in some emergency
cases, it may be possible to obtain an immediate temporary guardian before the
hearing). The person who files the petition has the responsibility to
properly notify the persons who have a right to know about the hearing. IN
GUARDIANSHIP CASES, IF A PARTY IS INCARCERATED
UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, THEIR NAME,
ADDRESS, AND PRISONER NUMBER MUST BE LISTED ON THE PETITION. TO OBTAIN
THIS INFORMATION, CALL (517) 373-6391 OR GO ON-LINE AT: http://mdocweb.state.mi.us/OTIS2/otis2.html. In addition,
the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to investigate the situation and make a recommendation to the court prior to the hearing.
On the date of the
hearing, the petitioner and anyone else who wants to take part in the hearing
goes before the Judge and explains the need for a guardian or
conservator. The person who is appointed guardian is required to file an
Acceptance of Appointment. The person who is appointed conservator must
file an Acceptance of Appointment and may also be required to file a Bond to
protect the minor’s assets. After filing the Acceptance of Appointment (and
Bond, if required), Letters of Authority will be issued to the guardian or
conservator. The Letters of
Authority give the guardian or conservator the right to perform the following
duties, unless the court restricts their authority.
What are the duties of a
guardian generally has the same authority and responsibility as a parent for a
minor except that a limited guardian cannot consent to a minor’s marriage or
adoption. A regular guardian cannot consent to a minor’s adoption without
the court’s permission.
guardian is required to file every year an Annual Report of Guardian on
Condition of Minor. The report must be filed within 56 days of the
anniversary date of the appointment. The information contained in the
report allows the court to assess how the guardianship is working and whether
it is still necessary.
The court will also review
a guardianship each year if the child is less than six years old, and for older
children as it thinks necessary.
What are the duties of a
1. Within 56
days of being appointed, the conservator must file an Inventory. The
Inventory is a listing of all assets of the minor. Assets may consist of
real estate, stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, savings and checking
accounts and personal belongings and everything in which the minor has an
2. It is the
duty of the conservator to care for and preserve all of the assets of the minor
and to represent the minor in any legal proceeding.
conservator must keep careful records of all income of the minor and all
disbursements of the minor’s funds. The conservator must keep the minor’s
assets separate from his or her own and never “borrow” from the minor’s assets.
4. It is the
duty of the conservator to file an Annual Account each year within 56 days
after the anniversary date of the conservator’s appointment.
The Account must list
receipts (monies in) and disbursements (monies out). Save your receipts;
one must be presented to the court for each disbursement.
When may a guardianship or conservatorshipl be terminated?
Anyone, including the
minor who is at least 14 years of age, may file a petition to modify the
guardianship or or to have a different guardian or conservator appointed. With the
court’s permission, the guardian may resign at any time. When the minor
reaches 18 years of age or dies, the court should be notified so that the
guardianship or can be ended and the court’s case closed. Before the conservator can be
discharged, a Final Account will have to be filed and approved by the court and
the court will have to be satisfied that the minor (now adult) or his or her
estate has received whatever assets remain.
Do I need an attorney?
If you have questions that this pamphlet did not answer, please
seek legal advice from an attorney. By law, court employees are not
permitted to give legal advice.
How much time should I
plan on spending at the court to open a guardianship and\or conservatorship?
The court’s hours are
8:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., excluding weekends and
holidays. Early morning is the best time to come to the court. Plan on coming no later
How do I get certified
copies of court documents?
They can be obtained in
person or mailed to:
Wayne County Probate Court
Attn: Probate Counter
1307 Coleman A. Young Municipal Center
Detroit, MI 48226
If the request is mailed
in, the court will send you a bill.