4. Duties and Responsibilities of Guardians and Conservators

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4. Duties and Responsibilities of Guardians and Conservators



Q8:     What are a guardian’s responsibilities to their ward?

A8:         A guardian must protect the personal and financial interests of their ward.  Guardians must obtain legal and financial documents important to their ward (estate information, health insurance, medical records, etc.).  Guardians are expected to keep information regarding their ward confidential unless disclosure is necessary to protect the ward. 

Guardians are expected to maintain relationships with the ward’s professional service providers, including doctors, attorneys, and financial consultants.  Guardians should have regular contact with such individuals to plan for the best interests of the ward.

Guardians should respect their wards and attempt to include them in making important decisions.  Guardians should understand the personal desires of their ward and should not take unnecessary control over their ward’s life.  Wards will maintain control over many decisions (including choices about friends, social functions, dieting and exercise, etc.).

Guardians should reevaluate their ward’s condition periodically.  If the ward’s condition improves, the guardian must return to court for a legal reduction of their control over the ward. 

Q9:     What are a guardian’s responsibilities to the court?

A9:         As a legal relationship, guardians must follow the court rules that apply to guardianships.  Nominated guardians must disclose certain information in their initial petition for guardianship.  See Q16.  After being appointed, guardians must abide by the court order that lists their specific duties.  Furthermore, the guardian must complete and file certain forms as specified in the court order.  See Q17.  Once all forms are received, guardians will receive “Letters of Guardianship,” which they will use to secure appropriate financial access, gain guardianship training certification, and file for control of their ward’s real property.  See Q18.

Guardians also have regular reporting requirements and annual accounting, discussed in Part VI: Reporting Requirements.

Q10:   Can a person be both a guardian and a conservator?

A10:       Yes.  A person can be both guardian and conservator for a ward.  If the ward has a significant amount of assets, the court will appoint a conservator to manage the ward’s finances.

Q11:   Are there other important rules that I should know as a guardian or conservator?

A11:       Yes.  There are number of rules to follow once you become guardian or conservator:

  • NEVER co-mingle your ward’s finances with your personal finances. You may need to open new accounts immediately in your ward’s name, if necessary.
  • You cannot pay yourself or an attorney any money from your ward’s accounts without court approval.
  • You cannot make any ATM withdrawals or receive cash back on a debit transaction from any account without a court order. If an account is restricted then you cannot access that money without a court order.
  • You must notify the court immediately if you or your ward has a change in address.
  • You must notify the court within 3 days if the ward dies.
  • You cannot move the ward out of state without court permission.
  • If you receive assets worth more than $500, you must report it to the court within 30 days using a form called Notice of Newly Discovered Assets as described under Question 23.
  • You need to get court approval and a court order in order to resign as guardian or conservator.

Quick Reference for Guardians/Conservators, Form No. CC 16:2.7.1.

Q12:   When do the duties of a guardian or conservator end?

A12:       The duties of a guardian or conservator end when one the following takes place:

  • For a minor ward, when the ward reaches the age of majority, has been adopted, has been married, or has joined the military.
  • For an adult ward, when the ward dies or the incapacity no longer exists.
  • When the guardian or conservator is officially terminated by the court.

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2614.

Q13:   What happens if the guardian or conservator dies, becomes incapacitated, or is removed or resigns?

13:          If a guardian or conservator dies or is incapacitated, the guardianship or conservatorship over the ward itself does not end.  A successor guardian or conservator will need to be appointed.  Resignation by a guardian does not terminate the guardianship until approved by the court.  Often, the court will require a replacement guardian or conservator before approving a resignation.  Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2614.