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

What is a conservatorship?

In Tennessee, a conservatorship is the legal process where a court will appoint someone, called a “conservator,” to manage the healthcare and financial decisions for a person who is not capable of doing so on their own. Before appointing a conservator, the court must find the person to be incapacitated due to a physical condition, such as an accident or stroke, or a mental condition, such as dementia. Tennessee law refers to this person as a “disabled person” for the purpose of a conservatorship.

Once the person is found to be a “disabled person,” the court appoints someone 18 years of age or older to act as the conservator. In Tennessee, a “conservator” is appointed for someone over the age of 18, and a “guardian” is appointed for someone under the age of 18.

What rights are affected if a conservatorship is appointed for a “disabled person?

Once a conservator has been appointed by the court, the court must determine and impose the least restrictive alternatives upon the disabled person while still providing protection to the person and his or her property. Sometimes, the court will appoint a conservator “over the person” or “over the property” or “over both the person and the property.” This designation will determine which rights will be removed from the disabled person and given to the conservator. Some of the rights that may be removed from the disabled person include:

  • The right to consent or withhold consent for placement into healthcare facilities
  • The right to consent to or withhold consent to medical treatment or procedures
  • The right to apply for public benefits
  • The right to enter into contracts or financial agreements
  • The right to manage financial and business affairs
  • The right to execute legal documents
  • The right to have a drivers’ license
  • The right to vote

Next Week - Who can be appointed a conservator?

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