Laptop sitting on desk with the word Conservatorship

Who Can a Conservatorship Help?

Brazil Clark, PLLC July 14, 2022

When a loved one becomes vulnerable to undue influence or can no longer make medical and financial decisions due to incapacity, a conservatorship may be the best choice. However, establishing a conservatorship is not an easy process, which is why you may need to seek the assistance of an attorney.

At Brazil Clark, PLLC, Attorney Frank Brazil helps clients navigate the legal system and informs them through the process of setting up a conservatorship. Attorney Frank Brazil, who has an office in Nashville, Tennessee, will review your unique situation and help you understand whether a conservatorship is appropriate for your circumstances. He proudly serves clients throughout Rutherford County, Tennessee.

Who Can Benefit from a Conservatorship?

The term “conservatorship” refers to a court proceeding in which a court appoints a person (the conservator) to make decisions on behalf of another person (the ward). A conservatorship can only be granted if the ward is no longer able to make financial and/or medical decisions on their own due to incapacity.

The law recognizes two types of conservatorships:

  1. Full conservatorship is what it sounds like. When a person is granted a full conservatorship, they have the authority to make all decisions for the ward, including decisions related to the ward’s money, property, medical care, housing, and even marriage.  

  2. Limited conservatorship allows the conservator to make certain – but not all – decisions on behalf of the ward. With a limited conservatorship, the ward retains the rights that are not covered by the legal arrangement.

Many people in Tennessee think guardianship and conservatorship are the same things. Although the two arrangements are ordered by the court, they are not identical. In Tennessee, guardianship applies to individuals aged 17 or younger, while a conservatorship is for adult individuals aged 18 or older.

Who Can a Conservatorship Help?

Below are some of the most common examples of who can a conservatorship help:

  • There is no estate plan in place. A conservatorship becomes a necessity when the incapacitated person does not have an estate plan in place. Specifically, a conservatorship may be necessary when there is no durable power of attorney or healthcare directive.

  • A person becomes incapacitated due to stroke, coma, dementia, brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive disability, or another mental or physical condition that renders them disabled.

In either of these scenarios, a conservatorship can help protect the person who is unable to protect themselves, care for their personal needs, and make decisions on their own.

How Is a Conservator Appointed?

A court can order a conservatorship after a petition is filed by any interested party, even if the petitioner is not the incapacitated person’s relative. The only requirement for appointing a conservator is that the person must be qualified to serve as a conservator. When appointing a conservator, the court will also determine reasonable compensation for the conservator’s service. In order to initiate the proceedings for appointing a conservator, the interested party needs to file a petition with the court in the county where the incapacitated person lives.  

The process of setting up a conservatorship is anything but easy. Essentially, establishing a conservatorship means that the petitioner has to “sue” the incapacitated individual. A court will order a full or limited conservatorship if the petitioner can prove that the respondent (the potential ward) is totally or partially incapacitated. The process can become complicated and time-consuming, which is why the petitioner needs to seek legal guidance from an experienced attorney.

What Personal Rights Are Affected?

One of the things to consider when drafting a conservatorship is the effect of conservatorship on ward’s personal rights. When granting a conservatorship, a court will determine which personal rights to remove from the incapacitated person and which ones to vest in the conservator.

Courts grant conservatorship rights based on the least restrictive appropriate alternative standard. Depending on the circumstances, the court may grant the conservator the right to limit the communication between the ward and certain individuals. However, the ward keeps the right to choose who they want to see and talk to if the court does not expressly grant that right to the conservator.

Generally, the court-appointed conservator assumes the authority to make financial, medical, and personal decisions on behalf of the ward. If you are considering petitioning for a conservatorship for a loved one, get legal counsel. A skilled attorney will guide you through the entire process and help you ensure that your loved one’s rights are protected.

Brazil Clark, PLLC Can Help

If you want to learn more about how a conservatorship can help in your specific situation, you might want to discuss your unique situation with a knowledgeable attorney. Conservatorship Attorney Frank Brazil helps with all matters related to setting up or opposing a conservatorship in Nashville, Tennessee, and throughout Rutherford County. Get a free case review by contacting Brazil Clark, PLLC, today.