All adults in Tennessee are legally considered to be competent and to have the ability (or capacity) to make their own decisions – about their finances and their own medical issues. However, sometimes an adult can suffer disability through a tragic injury, disease, or (in many cases) through the aging process and the deterioration of one’s mental abilities (i.e. Alzheimer’s or dementia type symptoms).

Often, one’s spouse is able to care for the other during such a season. However, if someone is widowed, divorced, single, or has no close loved one available to assist them, a conservator may need to be appointed by a local court to watch out for the interests of that person.

Conservatorship is a court-approved and court-supervised process in which a competent adult (known as the Conservator) is selected to assist the adult lacking capacity (known as the Ward). Following an investigation of the facts and circumstances by the Court (and its appointed investigator, known as a Guardian Ad Litem), the Court may appoint the person filing the Conservatorship as the Conservator, or may appoint someone else, or may decide the individual has no need for a Conservatorship.

There are several less complex options to a Conservatorship, the best being a financial and health care Power of Attorney. However, in some cases, a Conservatorship is necessary – and experienced legal counsel is important in helping guide families in this sensitive and sometimes emotional process.

If you need more information about a possible Conservatorship for a loved one, please contact Rich Scrugham at 865-546-9321.