The court can enforce an equitable bond in a conservatorship surcharge matter.

In re the Guardianship and Conservatorship of Helen Vikla, Conservatee, A17-0449, Filed March 12, 2018 (MN.App. 2018). Estate Resources, Inc. (ERI) is a now defunct professional conservator that (to put it charitably) breached its fiduciary duty to many of its clients. ERI was first made emergency guardian and conservator of the ward/protected person. ERI filed a bond for the emergency guardianship and conservatorship. ERI was later made general guardian and conservator but never actually filed a new bond in the matter. Although ERI never filed a new bond, the bonding company continued to receive payments on the bond while the ward was alive and after she died while matters were contested. So it sure seemed like a bond was present. During the course of litigation the court eventually ordered ERI and the bonding company to pay $44,143.75 in damages. The bonding company paid the damages and the accounts were finally allowed and discharges were issued. The bonding company appealed arguing that the court was without authority to create an equitable bond. While the court agreed that as a technical legal point, there was no bond in the general conservatorship, the bonding company could not point to any law to prohibit imposition of the bond in equity. Conservatorship courts apply both law and equity. See Minn. Stat. § 524.5-103. The court followed the precedent of Alwes v. Hartford Life and Acc. Ins. Co., 372 N.W.2d 376 379-80 (Minn.App. 1985) for the equitable authority to impose the equitable bond The Alwes court applies a six factor test to apply in equity and the factors all applied in the case. The equitable bond was upheld. The objectors in this matter raised several other issues primarily arguing that they had more objections and that the accounts should stay open. But the court of appeals found that the district court carefully reviewed the objections, that they were all heard, that the objectors had actual or constructive notice of all proceedings and that keeping the matters open is not necessary and the district court properly closed the matter.

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