When age or disability robs someone of the ability to handle their own financial affairs, they need someone to step into the role of a legal guardian in order to be protected from unscrupulous people that would happily prey on them (and their bank accounts).
Unfortunately, not everyone has a loving family member or friend who is willing and able to step into that role.
It's not always an easy task, especially if dementia or some other mental disorder has made the individual in need of a guardian combative or hard to handle. Some people find the paperwork overwhelming. Others find the whole situation too emotionally difficult to handle.
To deal with the issue, Nebraska created a Public Guardian office with 20 professional guardians. The office is capable of handling a total of 300 cases at a time.
They are finding themselves close to being overwhelmed by demand. As of the later part of 2017, there were already 237 people being serviced by the public guardianship program, indicating that the need is probably going to exceed the state's capacity to meet its citizen's growing needs sometime in 2018.
The only solution offered so far, according to the Director of the guardianship program, is to begin a waiting list.
Probate and family court judges who feel that an individual is in need of a guardian can recommend someone to the office and add their name to the waiting list. However, someone from the actual guardianship program will make the final evaluation as to who receives a guardian and the urgency of that placement.
The order of the potential waiting list to eventually get a guardian will be determined by greatest need. In other words, those at highest risk and with the most incapacitating conditions will receive guardians faster than those at moderate or lesser risk of financial abuse.
It's important to note that the public guardianship program was intended to be a "last resort" when all other options fail. It's always preferable to have a guardian that's a family member or close friend whenever possible. If you need answers about guardianship for someone you love, talk to a family law attorney today.
Source: Omaha World-Herald, "Nebraska's Office of Public Guardian expects to hit full capacity, need waiting list in 2018," Joe Duggan, Jan. 04, 2018