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In re Guardianship & Conservatorship of J.G.S.

Supreme Court of North Dakota

December 30, 2014

In the Matter of the Guardianship and Conservatorship of J.G.S. ; C.C., C.S., J.F.S., and J.S., Petitioners and Appellees
v.
J.G.S. and First International Bank and Trust, Respondents, J.G.S., Appellant

Appeal from the District Court of Cass County, East Central Judicial District, the Honorable Frank L. Racek, Judge.

Charlotte J. Skar (argued) and William J. Behrmann (on brief), Fargo, N.D., for petitioners and appellees.

Jonathan T. Garaas, DeMores Office Park, Fargo, N.D., for appellant.

Carol Ronning Kapsner, Dale V. Sandstrom, Daniel J. Crothers, Benny A. Graff, S.J., Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J. Opinion of the Court by Kapsner, Justice. The Honorable Benny A. Graff, S.J., sitting in place of McEvers, J., disqualified.

OPINION

Page 848

Kapsner, Justice.

[¶1] J.G.S. appeals from a district court judgment appointing a conservator of his estate. We conclude the district court had personal jurisdiction over J.G.S. and the court did not clearly err in finding clear and convincing evidence supported the appointment of a conservator. We affirm.

I

[¶2] J.G.S. is a 90-year-old retired attorney and owned a number of multi-family rental properties. In 2008, J.G.S. suffered a stroke. In 2013, the Petitioners in this proceeding, J.G.S.'s four children--C.C., C.S., J.F.S., and J.S., became significantly concerned J.G.S. was no longer able to care for himself or his financial affairs. The Petitioners were specifically concerned that J.G.S. was no longer able to maintain and repair the rental properties, was failing to collect rent from some tenants, and had gifted three multi-family rental properties to a tenant who had managed the properties for him.

[¶3] On August 7, 2013, the Petitioners filed an ex parte petition in the district court for the appointment of a temporary guardian and temporary conservator, seeking an immediate emergency guardianship and conservatorship. On August 8, 2013, the court appointed a temporary guardian and a temporary conservator. On August 13, 2013, the Petitioners filed a petition seeking a permanent or indefinite guardianship and conservatorship. On that same day, J.G.S. was personally served with a notice of the hearing on the petition for appointment of a guardian and conservator, with a copy of the temporary petition attached as an exhibit to the notice. The Petitioners also served J.G.S.'s attorney on August 13 electronically with the petition for a permanent or indefinite guardianship and conservatorship and supporting affidavits, containing similar, but more detailed, allegations than the temporary petition.

[¶4] On August 19, 2013, the district court held a hearing on the temporary

Page 849

order, found that an emergency guardianship was not necessary, and vacated the temporary order. The court appointed a visitor and psychologist to evaluate J.G.S. In October 2013, the court held a three-day hearing on the Petitioners' request for a permanent or indefinite guardianship and conservatorship. The court ultimately held that while a guardianship was not necessary, there was clear and convincing evidence of a need for a ...


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