Senior Couple Being Consulted by Their Daughter

When Is an Emergency Conservatorship Appropriate? 

Brazil Clark, PLLC Nov. 30, 2022

When someone you love suffers from a mental illness, physical disability, or cognitive impairment, you may notice that they lack the ability to make decisions for themselves. When a loved one is unable to care for himself or herself, an emergency conservatorship may be necessary. However, many people are hesitant to obtain an emergency conservatorship because they are unsure if doing so is appropriate for their circumstances.  

If you are considering setting up a conservatorship for a loved one, the attorneys at Brazil Clark, PLLC are here to help. Attorney Frank Brazil and his team assist people facing the temporary or permanent incapacity of a loved one in Nashville, Tennessee, and throughout Rutherford County.  

Tennessee Emergency Conservatorships  

When a loved one suffers from mental, cognitive, or physical impairment and is unable to take care of their financial, legal, medical, and/or personal affairs, a conservatorship may be the only option to protect your loved one from their own bad decisions and potential abuse or exploitation from third parties.  

Tennessee law recognizes several types of conservatorships, including emergency conservatorship. But how does conservatorship work? A conservatorship is a legal arrangement in which a person is appointed to make critical decisions on behalf of another.  

Decisions regarding conservatorships, including their appropriateness, are made by courts. Before granting a conservatorship, the court must first declare a person disabled. If the individual is declared disabled, they will be given the legal status of the “ward,” while the person who has court-ordered authority to make decisions on behalf of the ward is called the “conservator.” 

Instances When Emergency Conservatorships Are Appropriate  

If you believe there is an urgent need for an immediate court order to grant a conservatorship, you may be considering obtaining an emergency conservatorship. However, you may wonder, “When can you issue an emergency conservatorship, and when is such an arrangement appropriate?” When deciding whether or not to grant an emergency conservatorship, Tennessee courts make a comprehensive assessment of the ward’s condition and determine if there is a risk of immediate harm to the ward’s safety, health, or welfare.  

Situations in which it may be appropriate to request an emergency conservatorship include: 

  • An individual has a sudden or rapidly progressing medical condition that requires immediate intervention; and 

  • An individual is at risk of serious and imminent harm from abuse, neglect, or exploitation. 

In any of these situations, a court is likely to grant an emergency conservatorship when there is no other reasonable alternative to protect the person. If you are not sure whether or not filing a petition to request an emergency conservatorship is appropriate in your particular situation, consult with a knowledgeable attorney. The conservatorship attorneys at Brazil Clark, PLLC, can assess your unique situation and determine if you truly need an emergency conservatorship.  

How to Obtain an Emergency Conservatorship in Tennessee  

If you have decided that an emergency conservatorship is necessary, your next question may be, “Okay, so how can I get an emergency conservatorship in Tennessee?” While the process of obtaining an emergency conservatorship is rather straightforward, it still requires you to make a lot of effort to prove that such an arrangement would be appropriate:  

  1. Contact a skilled conservatorship attorney to discuss your particular situation, and determine if seeking an emergency conservatorship is truly necessary.  

  1. Prepare a strong case to convince the court that granting an emergency conservatorship is necessary. Your attorney will help you gather the evidence you need, including supporting documentation, to improve your chances of a successful outcome.  

  1. File a petition for an emergency conservatorship with the court of record in the county where your loved one resides.  

  1. Wait for the court’s decision. The court will assess the loved one’s condition and review the evidence presented by you to approve or reject the petition. In cases that require immediate protection, the court may appoint an emergency conservator the same day the petition is filed.  

  1. You will receive letters of conservatorship upon the court’s approval of your petition. The letters serve as proof of the conservator’s authority to act and make decisions on behalf of the ward.  

  1. If an emergency conservatorship is granted, the court will hold a hearing within five days to decide whether or not the arrangement should continue.  

Emergency conservatorships are temporary in nature. In Tennessee, an emergency conservatorship cannot last longer than 60 days. If 60 days pass and the ward still needs a conservator, the court may grant a permanent conservatorship.   

Next Steps After Obtaining an Emergency Conservatorship  

If you petitioned the court to obtain an emergency conservatorship and became a conservator, you might wonder, “What should I do once I get an emergency conservatorship?” First and foremost, you need to understand your duties and responsibilities as the conservator. Typically, individuals who were appointed to serve as someone else’s conservator have the following duties: 

  • Protect the ward. Protection of the ward is one of the most fundamental duties of the conservator.  

  • Ensure that the ward receives proper medical care. Depending on the type of arrangement, it may be the conservator’s duty to make sure that the ward’s healthcare needs are met.  

  • Act in the best interests of the ward. People who assume the role of a conservator owe a fiduciary duty to the ward. It means that the conservator must act in the ward’s best interests and cannot use their authority or position for their own benefit.  

Consider working with a skilled attorney to talk about the next steps you should take after obtaining an emergency conservatorship.  

Strategic & Practical Legal Counsel   

If your loved one can no longer manage their own affairs or make their own decisions, you need strategic and practical legal counsel to protect your loved one. Attorney Frank Brazil can help you understand if obtaining an emergency conservatorship would be appropriate in your specific situation and, if so, help you petition for a conservatorship. Reach out to Brazil Clark, PLLC to schedule a free consultation with skilled conservatorship attorneys, serving Nashville, Tenessee, and Rutherford County.