Minor children need a responsible adult to look after them and their affairs. However, for many reasons, a child’s parent may not be able to fill this role. In situations like this, an adult can apply to be the child’s guardian. If you believe a child needs a guardian appointed to help care for them, Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard can help. Our guardianship lawyers in Tennessee understand the process the Courts use to appoint a guardian and what factors can impact this decision.
What is Guardianship?
Similar to conservatorships, a guardianship case is the legal process required for the Court to appoint someone to fully or partially manage the affairs of a minor child. Sometimes, the Court will appoint a Guardian over the child’s person, which means the appointed person can make medical and personal decisions for the child, such as where the child will live and go to school. If the child has over $25,000 in income and assets, the Court will likely appoint a Guardian over the child’s property. If a Guardian is needed over person and property, the Court has the discretion to appoint one person to fill both roles or two individuals to serve as Co-Guardians.
A Guardian may be needed when a child’s parent is gravely ill or if the parent passes away. A Guardian may be necessary if the child inherits a substantial sum of money or receives funds resulting from a lawsuit or settlement. Finally, the Court may appoint a Guardian if a parent is incarcerated or if the parent is physically or mentally unable to care for their child.
If there are assets involved, the Guardian will likely be required to post a bond. Likewise, all court-appointed Guardians are required to file annual documents with the court to ensure that the protected person is being taken care of medically and financially. The annual requirements can be time-consuming and confusing. If you need assistance with completing an Annual Accounting/Status Report, call one of our experienced attorneys at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard.
How Does the Court Choose a Guardian?
Any person who believes a guardianship is necessary may petition a Tennessee court to appoint a guardian over a child’s person, property, or both. The Court’s primary concern when appointing a guardian is always the best interest of the child or children.
Generally speaking, a Court is unlikely to appoint someone who has been convicted of a felony. Further, the Court is unlikely to appoint someone over a child’s finances if the person cannot qualify for a bond due to a previous bankruptcy, bad credit, or a criminal conviction involving dishonesty.
If one of the child’s parents is alive, the parent will be given preference over all others. Next, the Court will consider the person or persons designated by a deceased parent in a Last Will and Testament or another written document.
Finally, the Court will consider siblings, extended family members, and other interested persons. If no appropriate family members or friends are willing or able to serve, the Court will appoint a private attorney or corporate fiduciary as the child’s Guardian.
Let Our Nashville Guardianship Lawyers Help
The process for appointing a Guardian can be complicated, but it’s important that someone reliable and trustworthy is selected to oversee the minor’s affairs. The Nashville guardianship lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC can provide the help and guidance you need to ensure the child has a guardian with their best interests at heart.
If you need to set up a guardianship for a minor child, contact Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC now for more information.