In Tennessee, Guardianship and Conservatorship mean the same thing, Guardianships are for when the disabled person or minor (Respondent) is under the age of 18, Conservatorships are for when the Respondent is over the age of 18. We will refer to both as a Conservatorship.
The Court can appoint a Conservator for a Respondent’s Person – to make health care decisions, to decide where the Respondent should live, etc., and for a Respondent’s Estate—to control the Respondent’s assets, property, income, and to pay the Respondent’s expenses. The Court can appoint a Conservator for either the Person or Estate, or both.
Ideally, the least restrictive alternative should be used and a Conservatorship should be the last resort. You want to keep as much autonomy and self determination as possible for an individual, while providing only the level or protection and supervision that is necessary. Some examples include: representative payee for certain governmental benefits and powers of attorney for health care and business matters. Though sometimes, it is impossible to avoid a Conservatorship.
The law provides procedures to try to be certain that a person whose rights are being taken away has ample opportunity to be aware of the proceedings, the opportunity to resist the appointment of a Conservator, and if one is appointed, that the Conservator will solely in the best interests of the Respondent.
More than likely, if a Conservator is appointed for a Respondent’s Estate, a fiduciary bond will need to obtained, or an agreement with the Court that funds of the Respondent will not be withdrawn without Court approval. Some day-to-day expenses can be paid without court approval, but large expenses and fees need to be approved by the Court. In addition, the Conservator will have to file an annual accounting with court showing all activity of the assets they had control of.