Volunteer Opportunity: What is a Successor Guardian?

Volunteer Opportunity: What is a Successor Guardian?

June 24, 2020
older man facing young man with Down Syndrome - smiling and laughing at each other

Are you passionate about and committed to serving those in need? If you have the time and desire, the Office of Public Guardian has a challenging volunteer opportunity for you. The OPG provides legal guardianship for people who have no one else in their lives to step into that role. Sometimes, a case can be handled by a trained member of the public, which helps meet a significant need in the community. Becoming a guardian is a major, sometimes lifelong commitment that requires integrity, time, and energy. The work of guardianship can be interesting and rewarding; sometimes, it can also be mundane and frustrating, but it is always vital.

Take a look at the following information, taken from https://supremecourt.nebraska.gov/programs-services/office-public-guardian/internships-externships-volunteer-programs.

Successor Guardians and/or Conservators are needed for:

Wards or protected persons currently under the care of the Office of Public Guardian. Individuals who have been deemed legally incapacitated with regard to making decisions on their own behalf by a court proceeding, and who have no one in their personal network to serve as a guardian or conservator can come to be under the care of the Office of Public Guardian. In order to fulfill statutory requirements and allow the Office of Public Guardian to serve on more (and more difficult) cases the OPG seeks to move stabilized wards/protected persons in our care to the care of qualified and willing members of the public. Successor Guardians/Conservators play a vital role in improving the lives of vulnerable adults in our state who have few significant or fulfilling relationships in their lives.

Role of Volunteer Successor Guardian and/or Conservator

A successor guardian and/or conservator has responsibilities defined by the court. These duties may include some or all of the following:

Selecting the individual’s place of residence

Arranging for medical care

Protecting personal effects

Giving necessary consents, approvals, or releases

Arranging for education, & services

Applying for private or governmental benefits

Ensuring that anyone required to help support the Ward does so

Entering into contractual agreements

Receiving money and applying these funds to housing, medical care, personal effects, education, and other services;

Any other area which the court may direct.

Becoming a successor guardian and/or conservator is ultimately the court’s decision. The Office of Public Guardian will provide information and support to successor guardians and/or conservators in the same manner that it is provided to other private guardians and conservators. Successor Guardianship and/or Conservatorship is a permanent responsibility which can only be terminated through court action.

What do I need to serve as a Volunteer Successor Guardian and/or Conservator?

Successful completion of the 3-hour Guardian/Conservator Education class

Copies of credit and background check information submitted to court when 1st appointed as a Guardian and/or Conservator.

Matching process with a potential ward or protected person and/or current guardian

Court appointment

What Is The Time Commitment?

Successor Guardians enter into a very close and committed relationship with their wards. This relationship can be compared to that of a parent and child. Sometimes the time commitment for parenting one's child can be quite extensive (to say the least). However, as a parent works to foster the personal growth and independence of their child, parenting becomes less and less of a time commitment even though it remains a constant responsibility. It is much the same with guardian and a ward. If an adult ward is in a stable and healthy living situation, guardianship is largely a matter of helping to maintain that health and stability. However, if and when emergencies or complications arise, as guardian you are responsible for making yourself available to deal with the situation. People volunteering as conservators, and not as guardians, can generally expect less of a time commitment as their role only pertains to maintaining a protected person's property and finances.

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If you are interested in speaking with someone about becoming a Volunteer Successor Guardian and/or Conservator please use the contact information below.

Contact:  Erin Wiesen, Office of Public Guardian/Education & Outreach Coordinator

Email: Erin.Wiesen@nebraska.gov

Phone: 402-378-1771