Sobieski, Messer & Associates, PLLC
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Family Law Attorneys Knowledgeable in Conservatorship in Knoxville, TN

Protecting your loved ones with a conservatorship as they age or when they are disabled

A conservatorship is a legal proceeding to help and protect an individual (ward) who, for mental or physical reasons, cannot manage his or her personal or financial affairs. Conservatorships are most often used to help aging relatives, but can also be appropriate for people suffering from temporary disabilities from illness or accident, as well as those who are physically, mentally or emotionally unable to care for themselves and make decisions for themselves.

Establishing a conservatorship

To establish a conservatorship, you must file a court petition including:

  • A description of the alleged disability
  • A summary of the facts showing why a Conservator is needed
  • A sworn report from the Ward’s doctor or psychologist that tells the Ward’s medical history, the type of disability and the doctor’s opinion about the need for a conservatorship
  • The Ward’s financial information
  • The rights you feel should be taken away from the Ward to protect his or her well-being
  • The names of the Ward’s closest relatives (spouse, children, parents and siblings)

In the event you do not have all of the Ward’s financial information, you can ask the court to enter an order allowing you to investigate the Ward's resources.

Once the petition is filed, the court will appoint an attorney to act as Guardian Ad Litem for the Ward to impartially investigate the case, determine the facts, and report them to the court. The Guardian Ad Litem is not an advocate for the Ward, but it is the guardian's responsibility to determine what is best for the Ward. The court will make its final determination in a conservatorship hearing, usually at least 30 days after the filing of the petition.

A family law attorney in Knoxville can help you through the process of establishing a conservatorship.

Emergency Conservators

Our lawyers can help you obtain a conservatorship more quickly when the situation is urgent. If the Ward is likely to suffer substantial harm in the absence of immediate intervention, the court may order a temporary conservatorship, but require that the Ward be informed of the order and the Ward must have a chance to be heard within five days.

Persons who can be Conservator

The order of preference for conservator is:

  1. Any person the Ward has designated in writing as the person he or she wants to serve as Conservator
  2. The Ward’s spouse
  3. The Ward’s child
  4. The closest relative of the Ward
  5. Any other person

Rights that can be removed from the Ward and transferred to the Conservator

  • The right to vote
  • The right to dispose of property
  • The right to execute instruments
  • The right to make purchases
  • The right to enter into contracts
  • The right to hold a valid Tennessee driver’s license
  • The right to give or refuse consent to medical and mental examinations, treatment and hospitalization
  • The right to do any other act of legal significance that the court deems necessary or advisable

Rights the Ward will have after the petition is filed

The Ward will have the following rights:

  • To demand a hearing on the issue of their disability
  • To present evidence and to confront and cross examine witnesses
  • To appeal the court’s final decision if they disagree with it
  • To attend all hearings
  • To have an Attorney Ad Litem appointed to advocate their wishes (which may not be the same as their best interest)

Duties of the Conservator

Because Conservators have unusual legal power over the Ward and the Ward's property, the Court will monitor their actions closely.

  • Most likely a bond will have to be posted to secure faithful performance.
  • The Conservator must act in ways that are in the Ward's best interests at all times. As a fiduciary, the Conservator cannot use his/her position for his/her own benefit.
  • Court approval must be obtained before the Conservator can sell or transfer certain assets or pay certain kinds of expenses.
  • The Conservator must file an annual detailed accounting with the court showing:
    • All the transactions that have been performed with the Ward's resources and how that was of benefit to the Ward
    • Whether there is a continued need for the conservatorship
  • If the estate is sufficiently large, the court may approve a fee for the guardian’s services.

Who pays for all of this?

You will need to hire and pay for an attorney, initially. If the court grants the conservatorship, then the expenses will likely be paid out of the Ward’s resources. If you are the spouse, joint funds may be used. If no one contests the conservatorship and the Guardian Ad Litem finds you to be an appropriate person to act as Conservator, then the expenses will likely be relatively minimal.

Contact Knoxville conservatorship attorneys today

The lawyers at Sobieski, Messer & Associates, PLLC skillfully handle conservatorship cases in Knoxville, TN and the surrounding areas. Our office is located in Historic Downtown Knoxville, near Market Square and within walking distance of the state and federal courthouses. We have fixed hourly rates. Contact us online or call 865.223.5586 for more information.

Sobieski, Messer & Associates, PLLC
612 Gay Street, 5th Floor
Knoxville, Tennessee, 37902-1603 USA