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Guardianship and alternatives topics:

Common questions

The question of guardianship requires discussion with your family, your support team and anyone else you choose to involve. The decision is based on what's important to you — and what's important for you. Your wants and goals are at the center of the decision.

When choosing how you want to make decisions about your life, there's no one-size-fits-all approach. You might be told that you aren't able to make decisions on your own or that it would be better for you to have a guardian appointed by the court. This should be your last option. Explore other decision-making options first, such as working with family, friends, professionals or other trusted people in your life.

Here, see common questions about guardianship. To learn more about other options, check out decision making under Your Options.

At age 18, your child becomes a legal adult — regardless of ability. Your 18-year-old has the right to choose when and how to share personal information and will need to sign a release form for you to see the information. Your 18-year-old can choose to include you in decision making or to make planning decisions alone or with help from others.

Families are often told that once a child turns 18, they will no longer be able to participate in medical, education or social service conversations with providers — and that the remedy is to seek guardianship. But, your 18-year-old doesn't need a guardian to continue to receive services, and you don't need to be their guardian to be part of those conversations. While your child might need or want someone to help them understand their options and make decisions, that doesn't mean your child needs a guardian.

To learn more about decision making — including independent decision making, supported decision making and substitute decision making (or guardianship) — check out decision making under Your Options.

If you choose to pursue guardianship, you must apply and be appointed as the legal guardian by the county court. This doesn't automatically happen when your child turns 18. If you and your child believe guardianship is the right choice, start the process at least six weeks before your child's 18th birthday to allow adequate time for court processing.

Everyone needs help making decisions sometimes. Even if you receive services and supports or you rely on others to help you make decisions — big or small — that doesn't mean you need a guardian. You can get help making decisions without having a guardian. To see the options, read about decision making under Your Options.

There are many tools to help you think about the help you need, and whether you need just a little or a lot of help. Find some of these tools on the supported decision making page from Charting the LifeCourse, or read about how to make a supported decision-making agreement (PDF). You can also ask your family, job coach, teachers or case manager for their opinion about how much help you need. Then, you can talk about who will help and how they will help you.

First, it's important to know your rights. Read about the rights of people under guardianship (PDF). Your guardian can only make decisions in the areas granted by the court, and you have the right to be included in those decisions. All other areas of decision making or life choices are yours.

If you have concerns, talk to your guardian. To get ready for the conversation, you might practice with your friends, family or other supporters. If you like, you can ask them to join the conversation with your guardian.

If you're not able to agree with your guardian, you can bring your concerns to the court. You might ask the court to remove or change restrictions, appoint a new guardian or end your guardianship.

If you're not sure where to start, contact Minnesota's Guardianship Information Line to learn more about guardianship rules, laws and best practices. You can also file a complaint with the Office of Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities.

If you believe that your guardian is abusing you, neglecting you or misusing your money, contact the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center or ask someone you trust to contact them for you. If you're scared for your safety, call 911.

Yes! Here are the details on the rights of people under guardianship (PDF). Your guardian can only make decisions in the areas granted by the court. All other areas of decision making or life choices are yours.

For example, you have the right to:

  • Be included in decisions made by your guardian
  • Have your personal and cultural preferences considered by your guardian
  • Visit, communicate or interact with anyone you want (unless the guardian believes it will cause you significant harm and there's no other way to prevent this harm)
  • Use social media
  • Hire an attorney
  • Tell the court that you object to the guardian's decisions

You can choose the decision-making options you want to use to live your best life. Here are a couple of rules that are important to know:

  • If you were younger than age 30 and someone filed a petition to be your guardian on or after August 1, 2020, the guardianship will automatically end after 6 years.
  • If you were older than age 30 when someone filed a petition to be your guardian or your guardianship started before August 1, 2020, the guardianship will continue as long as the court order says or until someone petitions the court to end the guardianship.

You always have the right to ask the court for changes to your guardianship. This could mean getting a different guardian, changing the types of decisions the guardian can make or ending guardianship.

If you want to change or end the guardianship, you'll have to show that you can make your own decisions — or that you have supporters who can help you make decisions — and that you don't need the help provided by the guardianship. It's a good idea to have a plan for how you'll make decisions and to practice those skills before you ask for the guardianship to end.

To see the options, read about decision making under Your Options. If you want to talk to someone about next steps in your decision-making journey, contact the Guardianship Information Line.