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 as the result of 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 the Court Chooses 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. When appointing a guardian, the Court’s primary concern 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 is unable to 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 other written document.  Finally, the Court will consider siblings, extended family members, and other interested persons.  In the event that there are no appropriate family members or friends who are willing or able to serve, the Court will appoint a private attorney or corporate fiduciary as the child’s Guardian.

Let Our Guardianship Lawyers Help

If you need to set up a guardianship for a minor child, Contact Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC now for more information.

We Can Help

If you need legal assistance regarding guardianships matters, contact us online or call us at (615) 800-7096 today for a free consultation with an experienced attorney.