Securing a Conservatorship/Guardianship for a Minor

To round out our discussion on conservatorships, this post will focus on securing a conservatorship regarding a minor, which in Tennessee is called a “guardianship” proceeding.

In certain situations, it may become necessary for a court to appoint a guardian to act on behalf of the financial interests of a minor child. If the child’s parents have died, become disabled or otherwise terminated their parental rights, a court appointed guardian will be responsible for the general care and custody of a minor child and to manage the minor’s assets.

Often the court appoints a disinterested person called a guardian ad litem to examine the family circumstances and provide independent guidance to the court to assist the court in making a guardianship appointment in the best interest of the minor child.

In certain situations, one individual serves as guardian over both a minor’s person and property. Sometimes, however, the court may divide the roles by appointing one person as guardian over the minor’s health and well-being and appointing another person as guardian over the minor’s property.

In Tennessee, guardianships generally end when the child reaches the age of majority. They can, however, be converted to a conservatorship beyond the age of majority if the court determines it necessary and in the best interests of the young adult. For instance, if a person has special needs the court may extend the conservatorship into adulthood.

With the complexities involved in securing a guardianship, for those with minor children it is best to have a plan in place. For many couples, selecting the guardian of their minor children is the most important decision they need to make in their wills. An effective estate plan should also nominate a trustee to supervise and manage your children’s property until your children reach an age where they are mature and responsible enough to manage their property themselves.

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