Minor Conservatorship

How It Works
Minor conservatorships are created so that someone, usually a parent, can preserve significant assets that belong to a minor child and increase their value as much as possible before turning them over to the child when they turn 18 years of age. The money that is the subject of a conservatorship belongs to the child, not the family and not the conservator, and generally may not be used to provide routine care and support for the minor.  
The proper venue (place) to file a petition for conservatorship is the county where the minor resides. If the minor lives out of state the proper venue is the place where property of the minor child is located.
Any person interested in the estate of a minor, or the minor themselves if they are 14 years of age or older, may petition the court for the appointment of a conservator via form PC639 (PDF). Visit the Instructions for Completing Petition for Conservator page for more information

There is a filing fee of $150 that must be paid when the petition is filed. If you are indigent, you may request an Affidavit and Order Suspension of Fees/Costs, form MC20, from the Court; this form is used to request that the filing fee be waived.  You must also complete and file form MC287 with the Affidavit.  The Probate Court accepts payment by cash, check or money order. The Probate Court does not accept credit or debit card payments.
The Hearing
A hearing may be necessary and a notice of the hearing will be sent to all interested parties: the individual to be protected if 14 years of age or older and the nominated conservator. MCR 5.125 (C) (24). The biological father of a child born out of wedlock need not be served notice of proceedings in which the child's parents are interested persons unless his paternity has been determined in a manner provided by law. MCR 5.125 (B) (4).

In special circumstances other people who must be notified are the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs if benefits are payable by the Veterans' Administration to the minor, an attorney who has filed an appearance with the court, any special fiduciary and any person who has filed a request for notice with the court. MCR 5.125.

If the Court determines that the minor’s interests are or may be inadequately represented the court may appoint a lawyer guardian ad litem to represent the best interest of the minor.

Once the petition is filed with the court, along with the filing fee of $150 and the interested parties have been served with the petition, the court holds a hearing. At the hearing the Court may deny the petition so that no conservator is appointed, or grant the petition and appoint a conservator.

Appointed Conservator
An individual or a corporation authorized to act as a fiduciary may be appointed to act as conservator in the following order of priority:
  1. A conservator or similar fiduciary for the minor who has been appointed or recognized by another court,
  2. The individual or corporation who has been nominated by the protected person if they are 14 years of age or older and of sufficient mental capacity to make an intelligent choice including a nomination made in a Durable Power of attorney,
  3. A parent of the protected individual or a person nominated by the Will of a deceased person,
  4. A relative of the protected person with whom he or she resided for more than 6 months before the petition is filed,
  5. A person nominated by the person who is caring for or paying benefits to the protected individual, or,
If none of the aforementioned persons or corporations are suitable and willing the serve then the court may appoint any person willing to serve who the court determines is suitable. MCL 700.5409.

The Court may appoint a conservator if it finds that the minor owns money or property requiring management or protection that cannot otherwise be provided, has or may have business affairs that may be jeopardized or prevented by minority, or needs money for support and education and that protection is necessary or desirable to obtain or provide money. MCL 700.5401(2). The Court may appoint a conservator if a basis for the appointment is proven by clear and convincing evidence. MCL 700.5406.
If the Court appoints a person or persons to be the conservator(s) of a minor the judge will sign Letters of Conservatorship and an Order Regarding Appointment of Conservator.  In Grand Traverse County the Letters and the Order are signed at the conclusion of the hearing, the file is brought, by the guardian ad litem/attorney or court staff, from the courtroom to the probate court office where a true copy of the Letters is made and given to the conservator. If a certified copy, one with a court seal, is required, there is a $12 charge.  The conservator signs the Acceptance of Appointment.
It is the policy of the Grand Traverse County Probate Court and a “Best Practice” according to the Michigan Supreme Court Administrator’s Office (SCAO) to require that all of the minor’s assets be deposited into restricted accounts, to prevent withdrawal of the minor’s funds without a prior court order. View the Minor Conservatorship Expenditure Policy (PDF) document.  Investments other than savings account or certificates of deposit at an FDIC insured institution need prior court approval.

The Conservator must gather, secure and list all of the minor’s assets within 56 days of being appointed by the Court and file an Inventory, form PC674 (PDF), with the Court. Along with the Inventory, the Conservator must file a Proof of Restricted Accounts, form PC669 (PDF), and copies of bank statements from any approved banks confirming the value of the assets shown on the Inventory form. In addition to filing the Inventory with the Court the Conservator must serve a copy of the Inventory on all interested persons and file a Proof of Service form PC564 (PDF) showing that it was served.

Future Filings
Every year that the conservatorship continues, the Conservator must file with the Court the Annual Account of Fiduciary (the preferred form in Grand Traverse County is the Long Form PC584 (PDF)) and a Verification of Funds on Deposit which updates the Court on any changes to the amount of money in the minor child’s estate over the preceding year. These forms must be filed each year within 56 days of the anniversary date of the filing of the Inventory. This form must be served on a ward 14 years of age or older and all “interested persons”.

The Annual Account form has a space to show all income and all disbursements made over the past year, however, for the estate of minor children there should not be any disbursements or withdrawals unless specially ordered by the Court. The accounts are designed to be read in the context of the Inventory or the prior account. The balance of funds reflected on the Inventory should be shown as the ‘beginning balance’ under the summary of the first Annual Account. For all Annual Accounts filed after the first account the ending balance from the prior year’s Annual Account should match the beginning balance on the current year’s Annual Account. When filing the Annual Account the conservator must attach a bank statement confirming the account balance as listed on the Annual Account.  View the documents, Checklist for Preparing Account of Fiduciary (PDF) and Minor Account Example (PDF).

Reminder Notices

As a service, the Grand Traverse County Probate Court may send reminder notices to the Conservator 14 days prior to the due date of the Annual Account. The notice states which document is due, the due date and the court address. The Conservator must complete, date and sign the proper form, and file it with the probate court.  The form and accompanying bank statement may be filed in person or mailed to the Probate Court office.
If the Grand Traverse County Probate Court does not receive the Inventory or Annual Account, within 56 days of the due date, the Court will schedule a hearing for the Conservator to come to court and explain why the form was not timely filed.

A minor conservatorship typically terminates on the minor’s 18th birthday. When the minor turns 18 the Conservator must file a Final Account PC648 (PDF) along with a bank statement verifying the amount in the account. The Final Account is due within 14 days of the minor's 18th birthday. A hearing will be scheduled to allow all accounts, usually within 2 - 4 weeks.  Once the Order is signed, by the Judge, a copy will be sent to the minor and the conservator. It is this Order that allows the money to be turned over to the minor. Within 7 days of the Order the minor must file a Receipt of Ward and Discharge PC649 (PDF), showing that they received their assets in full. Upon the Court receiving this form the conservator will be discharged and the file closed.