Conservatorships in Tennessee
When a person hasn’t planned for the future and can no longer manage finances or make healthcare decisions, Conservatorship may be a solution.
Conservatorship is a legal proceeding in which a family member or friend seeks appointment from the Court as Conservator so that they can take care of the person in need of assistance. The Court defines Conservatorship proceedings as a last resort. If the person’s need for assistance can be addressed through less restrictive means, like executing Power of Attorney documents, those options should be explored first. Our approach is to help families understand the standards for legal capacity, evaluate the person’s legal capacity, and if executing power of attorney documents is not an option, help file for Conservatorship with the appropriate court. Our services go beyond filing paperwork: we leverage our experience and expertise to assist families in addressing real problems like stopping financial exploitation and acquiring medical treatment in a crisis.
Signs you may need to file for conservatorship include:
- A person can no longer manage paying bills or managing assets
- A person is making financial decisions that are out of character like giving money away or making unusual purchases
- A person is doing things that are dangerous to self or financial security and has a medical condition like dementia
- You need to access bank accounts to pay expenses but you have no legal authority to access funds
- A person needs medical care and you need legal authority to make care arrangements
Many people file for conservatorship without a complete understanding of what it is. A conservatorship is the means by which a court removes certain legal rights from a person who is not competent (the respondent) and transfers those rights to another responsible party (the petitioner). This is different from the authority authorized under a Power of Attorney document in that the person signing a power of attorney retains his or her legal rights. To obtain a conservatorship, the parties must file a petition with the court, and the court will typically appoint a guardian ad litem to investigate whether a conservatorship is needed. The Court must determine that the Respondent is a fully disabled person in need of assistance from the Court. The petitioner must provide evidence to the court to support the petition for conservatorship, including an affidavit from a treating physician. The respondent may object to the petition, and the court usually holds a hearing to determine whether the conservatorship is warranted. Once created, the court continues to supervise the conservatorship and will require periodic reports on the health and financial status of the respondent. Major decisions may require court approval.
Conservatorships are not particularly flexible or easy. Procuring and then maintaining a conservatorship can be complicated. Sometimes, the situations are urgent. Our conservatorship team has the experience and skills to help you get the authority you need to take care of an elderly relative or parent who can no longer take care of themselves.
Contact our conservatorship team and we will reach out to you to get started.