Sometimes a person becomes unable to handle his or her own financial or medical affairs due to mental illness, advanced age, dementia or medical debility. If that person has not signed Durable Powers of Attorney prior to his or her incapacity, it may be necessary for loved ones to seek a conservatorship. In addition, a parent or other family member may need to seek a conservatorship for an individual who became incapacitated prior to reaching the age of 18 in order to continue making medical decisions and/or handling the finances of that individual once he or she reaches adulthood. We work with the families of disabled individuals to provide services including:

A guardianship is the legal process by which an adult is appointed by a Court to be responsible for the care of a minor child and/or to manage a minor child’s assets.  A guardianship may be necessary if:

  • Both parents are deceased,
  • A parent (or both parents) become disabled,
  • A parent (or both parents) abandon the child, or
  • One or both parents are living but unable to take care of the child for any reason.

Even if a minor’s parent(s) are living, a guardian for the minor’s property may still need to be appointed by a Court if the minor receives an inheritance, a legal settlement or has other assets.

A conservatorship is the legal process by which someone is appointed by a Court to make financial and medical decisions for an adult who is unable to do so for themselves. The person appointed by the Court is called a conservator.  A person who has signed Durable Powers of Attorney for financial and health care matters or who has created a Revocable Living Trust prior to becoming incapacitated may not need a conservatorship.

Special needs trusts and supplemental needs trusts  (SNTs), are specialized trusts which are designed to allow a disabled beneficiary to enjoy the benefit of the trust property without the trust property being counted as a resource available to the beneficiary for the purpose of determining whether or not the beneficiary is eligible to  receive needs-based government benefits such as SSI and TennCare.  If you have a loved one who is receiving government benefits, such as Social Security disability payments, it may be necessary to make sure they receive any inheritance in the form of a SNT in order to preserve their entitlement to government benefits.

In the past, the term special needs trust was used to refer to a trust funded with the beneficiary’s own assets and the term supplemental needs trust was used to refer to a trust funded with assets from a third party (such as a parent or grandparent).  This distinction has largely disappeared, and all such trusts are often referred to as special needs trusts.

A Miller Trust is a special type of trust that is used to obtain eligibility for certain types of governmental benefit programs when a beneficiary would otherwise have too much income (e.g. pensions, social security) to qualify. Most often, Miller Trusts are used for the purpose of establishing eligibility for TennCare nursing home benefits.

Often proceeds from a personal injury or medical malpractice lawsuit are ordered to be held in a trust for the benefit of the injured person.  Having a qualified and experienced trust attorney prepare this trust can make all the difference in how well the trust functions over the beneficiary’s lifetime.