The Michigan courts have consistently ruled that expenses associated with both guardianship and conservatorship can be allowable expenses under the Michigan No Fault Act. “The no-fault insurance act is remedial in nature and must be liberally construed in favor of persons intended to benefit thereby.” Maloney ex rel Gauntless v. Auto Owners Ins., 242 Mich. App 172, 179; 617 NW2d 735 (2000). “[S]ubject to other provisions of the act, ‘an insurer is liable to pay [personal injury protection] benefits for accidental bodily injury arising out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle…’” Sprague v. Farmers Ins Exch, 251 Mich. App 260, 266; 650 NW2d 374 (2002), quoting MCL 500.3105(1).

Michigan No Fault Act Personal Injury Protection benefits “are payable only for ‘allowable expenses.’” Section 3107 defines allowable expenses as “consisting of all reasonable charges incurred for reasonably necessary products, services and accommodations for an injured person’s care, recovery, or rehabilitation.”

In Heinz v. Auto Club Ins. Ass’n, 214 Mich. App 195; 543 NW2d 4 (1985), the Michigan Court of Appeals published its opinion stating:

In short, Michigan No Fault Act’s § 3107(1)(a) provides for the payment of expenses incurred for the reasonably necessary services for an injured person’s care. It is clear to us that if a person is so seriously injured in an automobile accident that it is necessary to appoint a guardian and conservator for that person, the services performed by the guardian and conservator are reasonably necessary to provide for the person’s care. Therefore, they are allowable expenses under § 3107.

“Relying on Heinz, the trial court concluded that if it is deemed necessary to appoint a guardian or conservator for the injured person, then the services performed by the guardian or conservator are by definition ‘reasonably necessary.’ We agree.” In re Estate of LeBoeuf, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, decided October 27, 2009 (Docket No. 286499).

In Houghton v. Automobile Club Ins. Assn., unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, decided Aug 1, 2000 (Docket No. 212961), the court split expenses in two categories: “Category I expenses were expenses routinely incurred in guardian/conservator proceedings.” The court found that these were allowable expenses under the no fault act entitled to Personal Injury Protection coverage, and failure by the insurer to pay them was unreasonable.

In In re Geror, the Court of Appeals continued this analysis stating, “Defendant also contends that the attorney fees of petitioner’s attorney, Craig L. Wright, are not “allowable expenses” under the no-fault act, MCL 500.3101 et seq. We disagree.” In re Geror, 286 Mich. App 132, 134; 779 NW2d 316 (2009). “The question, therefore, is whether, pursuant to Heinz, Wright’s legal services were ‘reasonably necessary services for an injured person’s care.’” (citing Heinz v. Auto Club Ins. Ass’n, 214 Mich. App 195, 198; 543 NW2d 4 (1995). “Wright’s legal services were directly related to petitioner’s care, and therefore Wright’s attorney fees are allowable expenses pursuant to MCL 500.3107(1)(a).”

In In Re Carroll (May v ACIA), 292 Mich. App 395; 807 NW2d 70 (2011), vacated, 493 Mich. 899; 822 NW2d 790 (2012), the Court of Appeals made various determinations that are still valuable in this determination. First, the Court made clear that conservatorship expenses (just like guardianship expenses in Heinz) were compensable under the no-fault law. Secondly, and more particularly, the Court made clear that such conservatorship expenses are covered by §3107(1)(a) as “care”, and not “ordinary services” under §3107(1)(c) as replacement services. In Carroll, the court held, “[T]he type of care provided by a guardian could constitute “care” within the meaning of MCL 500.3107(1)(a). And we conclude that there is little basis for distinguishing the “care” provided by a guardian from that provided by a conservator.” The court concluded in its ruling:

The expenses for the service provided by the conservator were … expenses incurred for [the ward’s] care under  MCL 500.3107(1)(a). For that reason, the probate court erred when it concluded that Auto–Club was not liable to pay the full amount of the conservator’s fee.

In In re Carroll, 300 Mich App 152, 832 NW2d 276 (2013), the Michigan Court of Appeals issued its opinion on remand from the Michigan Supreme Court. The Carroll court held in pertinent part:

As our Supreme Court approvingly noted in Douglas, attendant care can include services that the injured person might have performed before he or she was injured as long as those services are not the type of ordinary tasks that a family member might perform for the benefit of the household as a whole.

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Consequently, consistent with Grifith, Johnson, and Douglas, if an injured person—by reason of his or her injuries—requires a service in order to ensure his or her proper care, and that service does not amount to a replacement service under MCL 500.3107(1)(c), it will be compensable under MCL 500.3107(1)(a). See Johnson, 492 Mich. at 180, 821 N.W.2d 520; Douglas, 492 Mich. at 262–264, 821 N.W.2d 472; Grifith, 472 Mich. at 535, 697 N.W.2d 895. Here, many of Carroll’s financial management needs are extraordinary and peculiar to Carroll’s status as an injured person. And, because those needs are beyond those which would be ordinarily performed by a member of the household, they are compensable under MCL 500.3107(1)(a) as a service provided for Carroll’s care, recovery, and rehabilitation.

Carroll stands for the proposition that a conservator is required to perform duties that extend beyond a task which an ordinary person is required to perform in their daily life or for the benefit of their household and those services are “allowable expenses” and “compensable under MCL 500.3107(1)(a).” The Carroll opinion also points to management of care and treatment expense not present prior to the injury as allowable expenses.

After Carroll, conservatorship expenses can be compensable under §3107(1)(a) based on an examination of the extent that the conservator managed estate needs transcend what the injured person required before the motor vehicle accident.

The Probate Pro can assist with issues involving the Michigan No Fault Act and the benefits due to guardians and conservators.