Omaha Guardianship & Conservatorship Attorney
Establishing & Obtaining a Guardianship or Conservatorship in Nebraska
When an individual is unable to care for him or herself, either due to age, disability, an impairment, or incapacitation, the court can appoint a guardian or conservator. Guardians and conservators are individuals who have legal authority to provide for another person’s physical and/or financial needs. In addition to being appointed by the court, guardians and conservators can also be designated by an involved party, such as a parent.
If you would like to establish a guardianship or wish to obtain a conservatorship on behalf of a child or loved one, Carlson & Blakeman, LLP can help. As part of our comprehensive estate planning services, we assist clients in creating guardianships as an element of their last wills and testaments, as well as obtain guardianships and conservatorships by petitioning the court. Our attorneys are prepared to take immediate action, if necessary, and can provide the empathetic support and professional advocacy you need.
Led by founding attorney Darren R. Carlson, our estate planning team brings decades of experience to their practice. We recognize the sensitive and complex nature of these matters and are here to answer your questions and address your concerns throughout the entire process.
What Is the Difference Between a Guardianship & a Conservatorship?
Although guardianships and conservatorships are very similar, they also have several key differences. The primary function of both a guardianship and a conservatorship is to protect and provide for a person who is unable to provide for him or herself. Additionally, both can be either court-appointed or designated by a will.
The main difference between the two is:
- A guardian is someone who makes personal and healthcare decisions on behalf of a protected person (known as the “ward”)
- A conservator is someone who makes financial decisions on behalf of the protected person, or the ward
Guardians are allowed to make decisions regarding where the ward will live, what type of medical and/or health care they will receive, and what school they will attend. Conservators, on the other hand, are limited to making financial decisions, including managing finances, paying bills, entering into contracts, and making investments.
Who Can Become a Legal Guardian or Conservator?
The court recognizes any “competent person or suitable institution” as eligible to become a guardian or conservator for an incapacitated or underaged individual. Although immediate family members are typically favored, the court can and will appoint any guardian or conservator who will “serve the best interest of the ward.” However, the guardian or conservator must be considered an “interested party,” meaning they have some interest in the ward’s physical, emotional, educational, mental, or financial wellbeing.
The ward, or the person receiving the guardian or conservator, is also allowed to express their wishes regarding the appointment and has the right to be heard by the court. In cases involving minors whose parents have died, the decedent’s last will and testament may designate a guardian. The court will determine whether the designated guardian is suitable and will serve the best interests of the child. Additionally, a recommendation from Child Protective Services (CPS) or Adult Protective Services (APS) can influence the appointment.
How to File a Petition for a Guardianship or Conservatorship
There are several steps involved in applying to become a guardian or conservator on behalf of a child or incapacitated adult. We strongly recommend that you reach out to an experienced and qualified attorney, like those at Carlson & Blakeman, LLP, for help with this process, as it is very complex with vast room for error. An attorney at our firm can help you avoid mistakes and handle all necessary steps.
The actual petition for guardianship or conservatorship can be filed with the local county court in your area. Along with this petition, you will need to prepare and submit various forms and documents to the court.
Some of the information that must be provided when petitioning for a guardianship in Nebraska include:
- Credit reports
- Criminal history and background checks
- Affidavits of official Sex Offender Registry searches
- Abuse/neglect registry checks
These forms must be submitted within a certain timeframe, typically 10 days before the guardianship is granted. For more information, please contact our Omaha guardianship attorneys at Carlson & Blakeman, LLP.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Guardian or Conservator?
Generally speaking, a guardian or conservator is responsible for the child or incapacitated individual’s personal and/or financial decisions, respectively. Specifically, they are responsible for filing an Order of Appointment and providing copies to all individuals who also received a copy of the original petition for guardianship/conservatorship. They are also responsible for submitting an annual report.
The annual report must include the following information:
- The ward’s current overall health
- The ward’s living arrangements
- What medical, vocational, educational, or other services the ward received
- A summary of the guardian/conservator’s visits with the ward (if applicable)
- A statement regarding the current guardianship/conservatorship and whether it should be extended
- Compensation requested by the guardian/conservator for incurred expenses
If you wish to become a guardian or conservator, or if you have been recently appointed by the court to serve in this capacity, our attorneys at Carlson & Blakeman, LLP can help ensure that you remain in compliance with all state and federal laws regarding Orders of Appointment and annual reports. We can also assist you in understanding and meeting all duties and responsibilities to the ward as the appointed guardian or conservator.
Carlson & Blakeman, LLP Can Help You Navigate the Legal Process
Navigating the process of becoming a guardian or conservator is often extremely complicated, but at Carlson & Blakeman, LLP, we have the experience, resources, and acumen to help. Our attorneys are prepared to provide the personalized guidance you need, as well as the dedicated advocacy you deserve.
Whether you wish to designate a guardian for your child or you are seeking a conservatorship over a loved one, turn to our team for empathetic, client-focused service and attentive, reliable representation. We offer complimentary consultations, available on weekends by request, and we are one of the few law firms in the Omaha area to provide legal services in Spanish. Reach out to us today to learn more about how our team can assist you with your guardianship or conservatorship matter.