Every family has the desire to protect and provide for their loved ones based on their specific needs. However, some individuals may have certain needs that require further protection. The Higgins Firm Estate Group offers services to those seeking a conservatorship for loved ones. If you have any questions related to conservatorships, we encourage you to contact our experienced team of Tennessee conservatorship lawyers.What is a Conservatorship?
While you may have heard of a conservatorship before, you may be wondering exactly what a conservatorship is. A conservatorship is a legal proceeding that seeks to protect a disabled or incapacitated adult, also known as a conservatee, by granting authority to manage the affairs of another person. The conservator is the title given to the person appointed with the decision-making authority by the court.Who Uses Conservatorships?
Most often conservatorships are used with aging relatives. However, a conservatorship may also be used for those who have been temporarily disabled by an illness or an accident. Conservatorships may also be used by those who are mentally, physically, or emotionally unable to care for themselves. Typically, those appointed to be a conservator are close family members, friends, or other caretakers.What Must Be Proven in Court?
Before a conservator is officially appointed, a court must establish two things: 1) the individual is a “disabled person”; and 2) appointing the conservator would be the “least restrictive alternative” to protect the disabled person for health or financial reasons. Under Tennessee conservatorship law, a “disabled person” is an adult who is needs complete or partial assistance due to a number of reasons including: mental illness; physical illness or injury; developmental disability; or other mental or physical incapacity. The person seeking the conservator appointment must file a physician’s report that identifies the need for a conservator to protect the welfare of the disabled individual.
The judge in conservatorship proceedings will rely on testimony from doctors or other people involved in the case to make the determination whether a conservatorship is appropriate. The judge will weigh the evidence presented and make a decision based on the benefit to the conservatee and the conservator’s ability to assist.What Authority Is Given to the Conservator?
The conservatorship may include a range of authority from the very broad to the very narrow. The court may tailor the power of the conservator based on the needs of the conservatee. If the person’s disability is more severe, the court may choose to establish a full conservatorship. This type of conservatorship allocates nearly full control over the person’s affairs. If the person is able to perform at a higher function, the court may choose to establish a limited conservatorship. The limited conservatorship allocates authority over only specified areas. Also, the court may choose to establish a temporary conservatorship if a person is suffering from a severe illness or other temporary condition.
While the conservator is there to make the best decisions on behalf of the conservatee, the conservatee is still permitted to make his or her own decisions when applicable. In addition, the conservatee may express his or her opinion that should be taken into account by the conservator.What Rights Can Be Allocated to the Conservator?
As mentioned, a range of power may be granted to the conservator. Tennessee law provides that the rights granted to conservator on behalf of the conservatee may include:
- Executing documents
- Managing property
- Decisions related to health care treatment
- Any other necessary legal acts
If you need representation to help protect your loved one, contact our experienced Tennessee conservatorship attorneys. Our Nashville based attorneys would be happy to answer any questions that you may have related to your conservatorship issues. At The Higgins Firm Estate Group our attorneys are here to help you with your conservatorship needs.