Your Family Deserves Compassionate, Skilled Clarksville Conservatorship or Guardianship Lawyers
A conservatorship or guardianship is the transfer of decision-making powers from one individual (who is deemed mentally incapable of handling such decisions) to another, either temporarily or permanently. The two terms, however, are not interchangeable in the sense that guardianship is available for individuals younger than 18, and a conservatorship is meant for adults over the age of 18. Here are some facts everyone should know about Tennessee conservatorships and guardianships.
What is a Conservatorship in Tennessee and When is it Recommended?
A conservatorship is awarded to an individual (called a conservator) so that he or she can make healthcare and financial decisions of another adult over the age of 18 in the event of temporary or permanent incapacitation. If an adult is deemed incapacitated, and therefore unable to care for themselves or make important decisions due to aging, mental or physical disability, or a temporary incapacitating condition, a judge may award a conservator with the power to manage the individual and his or her property.
This is commonly seen in families with aging parents or individuals with a debilitating condition affecting their mental faculties, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The conservator is appointed by the court to protect the individual’s well-being and make important healthcare, financial, and legal decisions. A conservator will be legally bound to follow a property management plan established by the court and is not allowed to sell the property without court approval.
A conservatorship usually becomes necessary when an individual loses the ability to make decisions or care for themselves before setting in place a power of attorney and medical power of attorney. Even if those documents were signed, a conservatorship might still be required if the power of attorney documentation is deemed fraudulent or invalid by a court, or if the agent acting under the power of attorney is abusing his position.
A conservatorship can be contested if family members do not agree on who should serve as the conservator. When that happens, the court may assign a third party to care for the disabled or senior person until the family can reach an agreement or finalize any litigation in court.
What is a Guardianship in Tennessee?
When a minor’s parents cannot care for the child, a probate court will assign a caretaker that will protect the child’s physical and mental well-being and make important decisions on his or her behalf. If the minor has any significant assets, such as inheritance properties or proceedings from life insurance, the legal guardian may also provide supervision and make decisions regarding the child’s assets to preserve them and adequately manage them until the child is no longer a minor and is capable of making sound decisions on their own.
In most cases, guardianships automatically end when the minor turns 18, unless he or she suffers from any type of incapacitating disability that prevents them from looking after themselves and making money-related decisions. In other cases that do not involve a permanent disability, a guardian or parent can file for a petition requesting to extend the guardianship up until the child’s 25th birthday, which is the maximum duration allowed for a guardianship. In order to do that, the parent or guardian must show enough evidence to the court that this extension is necessary and must provide a solid argument on why it should continue.
In the case of a guardianship that includes management of the minor’s property or financial assets, the court will issue an order determining what expenditures will be authorized by the court to manage the minor and any assets. This protects the minor’s assets by not allowing a guardian to engage in unauthorized expenditures or sale of property without court permission.
Do I Need a Clarksville estate planning attorney to Petition For a Conservatorship or Guardianship in Tennessee?
Going through a petition for a conservatorship or guardianship can be a complicated and time-consuming process in Tennessee. This is especially true in contested cases. It is strongly recommended that you hire an experienced attorney with an estate planning and probate background to walk you through this process, so you can focus on preserving your loved one’s assets and giving your loved one the care he or she deserves.
At Crow Estate Planning and Probate, PLC, we have handled countless guardianship and conservatorship cases in Montgomery, Stewart, Robertson, Houston, Dickson, Cheatham, Sumner, and Davidson Counties and can offer you the legal advice, support, and knowledge you and your family are looking for. Contact our Clarksville, TN office by calling 931-218-7800. Life’s challenges don’t have to beat you. We are on your side.