Under Tennessee law, a person with a disability is someone who needs assistance or protection because of a mental or physical illness, a developmental disability, or another type of incapacity. A conservatorship may also be necessary when someone is temporarily disabled by an illness or an accident. For example, a husband suffering from a traumatic brain injury following a car wreck.
If the person with a disability has designated a specific healthcare agent in writing (such as in a living will or power of attorney), that person will be given priority if a conservator becomes necessary. Generally, if there is not a designated agent, a family member fills the role, such as a spouse or adult child. If there is not an appropriate family member available or willing to serve or if there is a dispute among family members about who will serve, the court may consider an unrelated person. The person may be a friend, a private attorney, a public guardian, or a corporate entity. The court must always consider the best interest of the person with the disability when determining who should become their conservator.