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What Is a Mental Health Conservatorship?

Brazil Clark, PLLC July 17, 2022

If someone you care about is unable to manage their financial or medical affairs because of a mental illness, you may be considering a mental health conservatorship. However, setting up a mental health conservatorship is no easy task, which is why you need the help of an experienced attorney. Don’t face this challenging time alone. 

Attorney Frank Brazil assists clients in Nashville, Tennessee, and other parts of the state, including Rutherford County, in establishing conservatorships and providing ongoing legal advice.

Overview of Mental Health Conservatorships 

As the name suggests, a mental health conservatorship is a type of conservatorship that grants a person (the conservator) authority to make decisions on behalf of a mentally ill adult (the conservatee). However, not every mental illness qualifies for a mental health conservatorship. Some of the illnesses and conditions that may render a person gravely disabled include:

  • Bipolar disorder

  • Schizophrenia

  • Manic depressive disorder

  • Major depression

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

When determining whether or not a mental health conservatorship is appropriate, it is vital to understand what constitutes mental capacity. Mental capacity refers to a person’s ability to make decisions for themselves and on their own by being able to understand the necessary information to make and communicate decisions.  

Who Needs a Mental Health Conservatorship?

A person who lacks mental capacity may need a mental health conservatorship. There are several benefits of establishing a mental health conservatorship for everyone involved: the mentally incapacitated person and their loved ones. If a mental illness renders an individual unable to manage their self-care and make critical decisions regarding their health, finances, and life in general, obtaining a conservatorship can help keep that person (and others) safe by providing for their best interests.

The need for a mental health conservatorship increases if the mentally incapacitated person is prone to violent behavior or presents a serious danger to themselves or others. Petitioning for a mental health conservatorship may be a necessary measure to help a mentally incapacitated person on their road to recovery.

The family members of the incapacitated person can also benefit from obtaining a mental health conservatorship because a conservatorship can provide them with peace of mind that the person they love will be taken care of.

Legal Criteria to Obtain One

The legal requirements for establishing a mental health conservatorship can vary from one state to another. However, one of the legal criteria to obtain this type of conservatorship is proving that the conservatee is gravely disabled because of a mental illness or condition. An individual can be considered gravely disabled when they lack sufficient insight or capacity to take care of their personal needs and make decisions regarding their health and finances.

People who petition for a mental health conservatorship must meet a high burden of proof in order to prove that an adult individual is gravely disabled. If you are considering obtaining a mental health conservatorship for a loved one, you might need the legal assistance of an experienced attorney to compile proof and help you make the necessary steps to reach that determination.

A conservatorship does not have to be a permanent legal arrangement. When a conservatorship is granted, the conservatee has a burden of proof to demonstrate that the legal arrangement is no longer necessary because they can manage their personal, medical, and financial affairs on their own.

The process to Establish a
Mental Health Conservatorship

The process of establishing a mental health conservatorship always begins with gathering evidence to convince the court that another person lacks mental capacity. In most cases, that means compiling medical records and gathering witness statements.

Once the necessary evidence is gathered, any interested person must file a petition with the court in the county where the mentally ill person lives. The petition must contain medical records detailing the conservatee’s mental condition or illness.

After the court receives the petition, the judge will appoint a guardian ad litem to evaluate the case and determine if the information provided in the petition is accurate, complete, and warrants a mental health conservatorship.

After reviewing all the facts, the guardian ad litem will prepare a written report to the judge to recommend either approval or denial of the proposed conservatorship. If a conservatorship is deemed necessary, the guardian ad litem will provide their recommendations regarding the choice of a conservator and the limitations that will be appropriate based on the conservatee’s condition.

A skilled attorney can guide you throughout the process of establishing a mental health conservatorship. Your attorney will gather evidence to meet the burden of proof, prepare the petition, and present your arguments at the hearing in the most convincing manner possible.

Conservatorship Attorney in Nashville, Tennessee

Each case is unique, which is why you may need to seek legal guidance to understand if establishing a mental health conservatorship would be appropriate in your specific case. Attorney Frank Brazil is a Nashville-based conservatorship attorney who assists clients with petitioning for a mental health conservatorship and getting the petition approved. Schedule a free consultation with attorney Brazil to discuss the specifics of your case.