If you have a loved one who is unable to properly care for themselves and
make important financial decisions due to advanced age or a disability,
it may have come to the point where your loved one needs a conservator.
“Conservators” are for adults who are disabled, whereas “guardians”
are for children. Under Tennessee law, a disability doesn’t have
to be physical; the disability can be mental as well. For instance, an
adult suffering with dementia or Alzheimer’s may be considered “disabled”
even though they have no issues with mobility.
Essentially, if an adult has a mental or physical condition where they
have difficulty doing things, such as paying their bills, or entering
into a contract, they may benefit from having a conservator.
Not All Disabled Individuals Need Conservators
Just because an adult is disabled, it does not mean that he or she needs
a conservator. A person can live well into their 90s without a conservator
if they are mentally sharp. Rather, conservators are used by disabled
adults when they need help with legal issues, such as:
- Paying their bills
- Managing their finances
- Entering into a legal contract
- Buying real estate
- Selling real estate
- Receiving or refusing medical care
If more than one individual is interested in becoming someone’s conservator,
the court will have to decide which person is right for the job. The court
typically appoints conservators in the following order:
- Someone who the disabled person named in a legal document
- The spouse
- A child
- Another close relative
Depending on the unique situation, the court will determine the extent
of the conservator’s duties. Generally, the court will make the
conservator responsible for the disabled adult or their property. This
is called conservatorship of the “person” and/or “property.”
As a conservator over the “person,” the conservator makes decisions,
such as where the disabled adult will live, and whether the disabled person
should receive certain medical care.
The conservator of the estate is in charge if the disabled person’s
financial affairs. In this case, the conservator must protect the individual’s
property and use it for their support and well-being. The conservator
of the estate must keep detailed records and account to the court periodically.
To learn more about conservatorships of the person and the estate,
contact my Nashville probate firm for a free consultation!