Guardianship And Conservatorship Of Minors and Alternatives

Not all guardianships are over adults. A guardian may also be appointed for a minor. Under the Nebraska Probate Code, a minor is generally an individual under 19 years of age. The parents of the minor are considered as the minor's "natural guardians" and generally speaking, no court proceeding is necessary. A court appointed guardian over a minor may be necessary when the parents die or when both parents have their rights terminated through a juvenile proceeding.

If both parents pass away while the child is a minor, they may mention in their will who they want to be appointed as guardian or conservator of their minor child or children. The court will generally honor this request and appoint that person as guardian or conservator if they are willing to accept such appointment.

The powers of a guardian of a minor are generally the powers and responsibilities of a parent. The only main difference is the guardian is not personally responsible for acts of the minor. This includes the power to take reasonable care of minor's personal effects, receive money or property payable to the minor, authorize medical or other professional care, make decisions concerning the minor's education, social or other activities, and consent to the marriage or adoption of the minor.

The duties of a guardian of a minor include the duty to report on the condition of the minor not later than 30 days after the anniversary of his or her appointment and every year thereafter. A guardian of a minor is also prevented from paying him or herself compensation without a court order.
The guardianship of a minor terminates upon the death, resignation, or removal of the guardian, the death or adoption of the ward, or when the ward attains the age of majority or is otherwise emancipated. In addition, upon termination of the guardianship, the guardian of the minor must file a final report with the court and settle all accounts with the ward by delivering any remaining funds or property to the ward.

The Nebraska Probate Code also lists some alternatives to court intervention when dealing with a minor. Under Nebraska Revised Statute § 30-2603 (Reissue 1995), a person obligated to pay money or deliver personal property to a minor, in amounts not exceeding $10,000.00 per year, may do so without setting up a conservatorship over the minor. They are required to deliver it directly to a person having the care and custody of the minor, the natural guardian of the minor, or a financial institution in the minor's name.

The person receiving the money is obligated by Nebraska law to apply the money to the support and education of the minor and give the balance remaining to the minor once he or she reaches the age of majority or is emancipated.

Under Nebraska law, a conservator may be appointed for a minor if the minor owns money or property which requires management (in excess of $10,000.00 per year) or when funds are needed for the minor's support and education, and a conservator is needed to obtain such funds from a third party.

Another alternative to court intervention under the Nebraska Probate code is Nebraska Revised Statutes § 30-2604. Under this statute, a parent or guardian of a minor, or a parent or a guardian of an incapacitated person may delegate to another person his or her power dealing with the care, custody, or property of the minor or incapacitated person. This delegation may be accomplished by use of a power of attorney and the agent's authority may not exceed six months.

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