What is a conservatorship?
Conservatorships are established by the Tennessee courts. Their purpose is to appoint another person (“conservator”) to protect the health and welfare of a person with a disability – called a “ward” of the state.
Although the process can be difficult, there are situations where a conservatorship may be an option. Sometimes our loved ones require medical attention but cannot give consent to certain treatments, or they refuse treatment against objective reasons in support of treatment. Perhaps they are in danger of being taken advantage of financially. Similarly, cases arise where others abuse their role as trustee, power of attorney, conservator, or some other position of responsibility to the disabled person.
Because the nature of a conservatorship is to strip a person with a disability of their rights to make decisions regarding their health or finances, Tennessee takes the process very seriously. There are stringent guidelines that must be followed before the court will appoint a conservator.
What Must I Prove?
The person seeking the conservatorship is required to show certain proof before their appointment can be approved. Generally, the court will want to see:
A clear showing of the nature and extent of the disability;
Whether the ward is fully or partially disabled;
Whether the court’s assistance is necessary;
The least restrictive way to achieve protection for the disabled person;
The priority of the person(s) seeking to be the conservator;
Taking in all circumstances, what is in the best interest of the disabled person.
This is not exhaustive of what the court will require. Each situation, and each disability, are different. It is important to work closely with a professional before proceeding forward.
What Is An Emergency Conservatorship?
Tennessee courts have recently set out procedures to establish conservatorships in emergency situations. These are important in situations where a disabled person could be substantially harmed before the time it would take to get a hearing to approve the appointment of a conservator.
Emergency conservatorships are temporary and restrictive in the powers granted to the emergency conservator. The strict requirements of a formal conservatorship must be complied with shortly after any emergency appointment is made; including the appointment of an attorney ad litem, notice to other interested parties, and a hearing on the merits of appointing a conservator.
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