Conservatorships Part 2

Conservatorships Part 2

By Cathy Warmbrod, Attorney
McDonald, Levy and Taylor, PLLC

Who can be appointed a conservator?

A court can appoint anyone to be a conservator, but generally there is a priority of who will be appointed:

  • A person chosen by the disabled person before he or she became “disabled,” such as a power of attorney;
  • A spouse;
  • A child over the age of 18;
  • A close relative;
  • A public guardian; or
  • Anyone else who is found to be an appropriate conservator by the court

However, only a Tennessee resident can be appointed a conservator over both the person and property. A non-resident of Tennessee can only serve as conservator over the person so a Tennessee resident would have to be appointed to serve a conservator over the disabled person’s property.

What are the duties of a conservator after being appointed by the court?

Conservators are responsible to taking an inventory of the disabled person’s assets and then providing a periodic accounting of those assets and expenses, which requires good record-keeping.

The conservator must act in the best interests of the disabled person and can be removed by the court if he or she is not acting in the disabled person’s best interests.

What is the process for getting a conservatorship?

The process is initiated by filing a petition for conservatorship in the county in which the disabled person resides.  When filing the petition, a report from a physician or psychologist must be included which describes the medical and/or physical conditions that necessitate appointment of a conservator. The court will also appoint a “guardian ad litem” who acts as an agent of the court and will investigate whether the “disabled person” needs to have a conservator appointed.

In certain circumstances, a petition for emergency conservatorship may be filed if it is likely the person is at risk of substantial harm to their health, safety, or welfare.

What costs are involved with a conservatorship?

There are numerous fees involved with a conservatorship, including court filing fees, attorney’s fees, fees for physicians or psychologists, and costs associated with required bonds.

How can a conservatorship be avoided?

Estate planning can help avoid having to get a conservatorship over a family. Having a Healthcare Power of Attorney as well as a Financial Power of Attorney in place can avoid the need for a conservatorship. Contact an attorney to assist you with your estate planning needs.

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