In re Guardianship of Kowalski

478 N.W.2d 790 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991)

 

RULE:

Minn. Stat. § 525.551(5) defines the "best interests of the ward" considering all relevant factors to be considered or evaluated by the court in nominating a guardian or conservator, including but not limited to: (1) the reasonable preference of the ward or conservatee, if the court determines the ward or conservatee has sufficient capacity to express a preference; (2) the interaction between the proposed guardian or conservator and the ward or conservatee; and (3) the interest and commitment of the proposed guardian or conservator in promoting the welfare of the ward or conservatee and the proposed guardian's or conservator's ability to maintain a current understanding of the ward's or conservatee's physical and mental status and needs. In the case of a ward or conservatorship of the person, welfare includes: (i) food, clothing, shelter, and appropriate medical care; (ii) social, emotional, religious, and recreational requirements; and (iii) training, education, and rehabilitation,

FACTS:

The ward was 35 years old and suffered severe brain injuries in an automobile accident. At the time of the accident, the ward was sharing a home with her *** partner. They had exchanged rings, named each other as insurance beneficiaries, and had been living together as a couple for four years. The ward's father was awarded guardianship and he relocated the ward and terminated the *** partner's visitation rights. The father later wished to be removed as the ward's guardian and the partner filed a petition for appointment as successor guardian of the ward's person and estate. The district court denied the petition and a friend of the family was named as guardian. The partner appealed the trial court's decision, 

ISSUE:

Did the trial court err in denying the partner's petition for guardianship?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The court reversed and remanded with instructions to appoint the partner as guardian. The court held that it would not interfere with the appointment of a guardian except in the case of clear abuse of discretion. The court evaluated the ward's ability to make rational choices. That the ward wished to return home with her partner was a significant factor in the guardianship proceeding. The  partner's suitability for guardianship was overwhelmingly clear from the testimony of the ward's doctors and caretakers.

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