For the following questions, please reference the Flowchart found in Part X: Flowchart of Procedures for Nebraska Guardianships.
A14: Aside from a few exceptions, any competent person or suitable institution may be appointed guardian of an incapacitated person. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2627. The court seeks to appoint a guardian who will serve the best interest of the ward. Direct relatives are favored for the role of guardian, but the court is allowed discretion in its appointment. Courts are also directed to hear the express wishes of the ward. In some cases, the court might require guardians to furnish a bond in accordance with Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2640 and § 30-2641.
Similarly, the court may appoint an individual or corporate trustee as conservator of a ward’s estate. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2639. The court prioritizes conservator appointments similar to its guardian appointments.
A15: Start by filing a petition for a finding of incapacity and appointment of a guardian. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2619. To file the petition, it is strongly recommended that you consult with a lawyer who practices in the area of guardianship law. See Part IX: Additional Resources for Court and Agency References.
To verify the allegations of incapacity, the court may appoint a visitor to interview the alleged incapacitated person. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2619.01. Within 60 days of the guardianship petition, the visitor will file a report evaluation, made available to the guardian ad litem, the proposed ward, and the petitioner. The evaluation will include the visitor’s recommendations regarding the proposed guardianship. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2619.03. Following this report, parties have 10 days to file a response. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2619.04.
After the petition is filed, the court will issue an order setting a hearing for whether a guardian or conservator should be appointed. Petitioners will need to serve personal notice on the incapacitated person and his or her spouse at least 14 days prior to the hearing. Notice must also be served on the incapacitated person’s parents, adult children, and anyone who is currently serving as guardian or conservator or who has the care or custody of the incapacitated person. If there is no applicable spouse, children, or parents, at least one of the closest adult relatives of the alleged person must be given notice. Be sure to check with the statutes to ensure all parties are properly notified, or consult with a lawyer to ensure proper notice. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2625, § 30-2634.
At the hearing, the court will determine whether the person needs a guardian or conservator by clear and convincing evidence. If a party objects to someone being appointed, then the matter is considered “contested” and will be set for trial at a later date so the court can hear each party. If the court decides the person needs a guardian or conservator, then the court will issue an Order of Appointment.
A16: The person nominated in the petition to serve as guardian or conservator must complete and submit the following reports to the court, as required by law. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2602.02. More information on how to obtain the reports is found on the Nebraska Supreme Court website.
- A credit report from an established credit reporting agency;
- A Sex Offender Registry check: Nebraska residents use the Nebraska Sex Offender Registry and complete an Affidavit of Sex Offender Registry Search;
- A Criminal History check: Nebraska residents use the Nebraska State Patrol Criminal History Reports for Arrest and Prosecution sheet; and
- A Child/Adult Abuse and Neglect Registry check: use the written check provided by Department of Health and Human Services.
These reports must be completed and submitted to the court at least 10 days prior to the appointment hearing date. A person can ask the court to waive one or more of these reports for good cause.
NOTE: If a petitioner requests an immediate hearing because of an emergency need of a temporary guardianship or conservatorship, the background checks are not required.
A17: As a newly appointed guardian or conservator, there are specific forms that must be filed. When you receive your Order of Appointment from the court, you need to file the following forms within 30 days from the Order:
- Acceptance of Appointment (Forms No. CC 16:2.2.1 - CC 16:2.2.9);
- General Information Sheet;
- Address Information Sheet;
- Personal and Financial Information;
- Inventory and Affidavit of Due Diligence – sent to all interested parties and to ward with a Notice of Interested Party Form;
- Acknowledgment of Financial Institution;
- Proof of Restricted Account (if applicable); and
- Obtain bond (if required).
If the guardianship or conservatorship has “restricted funds,” then you must file a Proof of Restricted Account from a Depository or Financial Institution within 10 days of appointment. If you are working with a lawyer, he or she will assist you with these steps and filing of the forms.
After all of the aforementioned forms filed and requirements are met, you will be issued your “Letters of Guardianship or Conservatorship.”
A18: Once you receive your Letters of guardianship or conservatorship, you must file the following with the court:
- Acknowledgement of Financial Institution Form within 10 days, showing you provided your Letters to all financial institutions (banks, credit unions, etc.) where the ward has assets. Attach this form to a printout of each financial institution that has assets and what the assets are.
- A Guardian and Conservator Training Certificate within 90 days, showing you completed an approved Training Class. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2627(d).
A19: Unless waived by the court, new guardians and conservators must complete a training program approved by the State Court Administrator. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2627(d). Training provides detailed information for those appointed as guardian or conservator, and classes are taught by professional educators and often joined by volunteer attorneys. Approved training is offered by the following organizations:
Training must be completed and a Certificate filed with the court within 90 days of appointment.