I am in a big mess with guardianship, POA and estate planning. Can anyone give advice?

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This is the latest letter that I have sent to the NE Leg Judiciary Committee. I have been struggling with Guardianship Regulations since Feb. 2012. This is a serious problem. MES To Senator; I am writing regarding the latest Guardianship Regulations. In March 2006 my husband was injured at work, where we both worked. A large steer knocked him over backward hitting his head on the cement. He had 7 hours of brain surgery, 6 weeks of intensive care, another week in the hospital and was then sent to a nursing home still in a coma. He regained consciousness in early May but has been severely disabled both physically and mentally and is still in the nursing home. His expenses are covered for the most part by the Workman’s Comp. Insurance. Since he could not sign a Power of Attorney document, I used the only other option. I got a Guardianship for him so I could sign for him and manage our business. It has been an aggravation but with an understanding Judge we were able to make it work. The 2011 Guardianship Regulations have turned my life into a nightmare. I took the stack to my Attorneys and it took them 8 months to wade through the paperwork and get a petition ready to file, after all that the financial report wasn't complete. If professional attorneys can’t get it right in 8 months, how are elderly people with no training supposed to wade through all the legalese. We had barely finished 2011 when it was time to start on 2012. In the process of mailing all the legal documents to my children, one of them misunderstood what it is all about and refuses to talk to me or his brothers about anything. This has been a terribly destructive piece of legislation for our family. At first glance I thought “LB 615” might be of some help in our situation till I got to Sec. 7, stipulating that the Ward’s Assets could not be over $10,000. His Social Security was $8,208 in 2012, his IRA paid out $1,348, his checking account has $1,615 in it, his share of our investment in a local assisted living complex is $14,000, his share of our US Savings bonds is $17.000, his share of our investment acct is $6,352, his half of the land we own is worth $210,065, his share of our household goods is $625, for a total of $259,213. Unless I can take his name off more of the assets we will not qualify. He is now 81 years old and I am 76. I need to do some serious Estate Planning. I want to get the land out of both of our names, put in the name of the son who has been working on the ranch since 1980 and managing it since 1998, keep life use of it so we still have income from it but leave no question where it goes when we are gone. We have Insurance policies to compensate the other three children for the land. Our newly appointed Judge, who has no understanding of the problem, says, “No, unless all the children agree.” She said she would have no problem with it if I had “Power of Attorney”. If there was any way I could get that, I would not need to ask her. The child who refuses to talk to us probably will not sign and send back anything so my hands are tied and I have no way to move forward. There needs to be some provisions for spouses of suddenly incapacitated persons to be able to continue to manage and use the shared assets and make reasonable plans to pass along whatever assets remain. We had wills written and Power of Attorney for Health Care but we did not realize that we would need one for business as well. Like most people, we assumed that the “Well Spouse” could continue to do “Business as Usual”. I would appreciate any guidance you can offer.


429 helpful answers
Your letter points up the importance of having a broad ("general") durable power of attorney, one that covers all financial matters. At this point, since your husband is unable to sign such a document, you will be forced to seek to be appointed his guardian in order to make such decisions on his behalf. Getting appointed a guardian is easier in some states than others; it sounds like in your state it is quite difficult. I wish you the best in this unfortunate situation.
429 helpful answers
It looks like you are already appointed your husband's guardian. However, if he is unable to comprehend the essence of what a power of attorney document is because of his disability, you will have to rely on the guardianship process only, at this point.
That is the point. In Nebraska the guardianship regulations are so difficult as to be unworkable if there is any joint property. Changes need to be made. I have contacted several organizations that have Lobbyists but I don't know if lawmakers are listening.

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