Guardianship is an important form of legal protection for those with medical or age-related issues, but it seems to only make the news when something terrible happens. There have been several high-profile stories involving well-known celebrities in recent years who were subject to inappropriately-run involuntary guardianships.
Older adults, those with mental health issues and those who experienced traumatic injuries may struggle to handle their own affairs. Is guardianship a possibility if they live in Tennessee?
In Tennessee, that transfer of power is a conservatorship
Technically, no adults are subject to guardianship under Tennessee state laws. Guardianship only applies to children. Adults who have lost control over their living circumstances or finances to another adult are the subject of a conservatorship, not guardianship.
Conservatorships can apply to an individual, meaning that there will be someone else handling their daily lives for them. Someone’s property can also be subject to an estate conservatorship that lets someone else manage their finances. Anyone incapable of taking care of themselves could be at risk of a conservatorship. Family members or even caregivers could initiate court proceedings to request a conservatorship over an individual or their resources.
Those who worry about a conservatorship as they age can potentially avoid losing control over their own lives through the creation of estate planning documents, like durable powers of attorney. Those concerned about family members can use what they know about conservatorships to learn more about how to protect vulnerable older adults.
Understanding how Tennessee handles conservatorship requests can help your family prepare for a potentially difficult conversation with a loved one.