The Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to amend the state guardianship law to require disclosure of any criminal record by individuals seeking to become conservators.
The bill was prompted by the case of Jewell Tinnon, 82, of Nashville, who was placed in a conservatorship after a request by two of her grandchildren. Her story was featured in Sunday’s Tennessean as part of an examination of conservatorships, which are intended to protect those no longer able to care for themselves.
While Tinnon was under court-ordered control, her house, car and all her possessions were sold off, with the proceeds going to pay legal and other fees. The judge overseeing the case, 7th Circuit Probate Court Judge David “Randy” Kennedy, eventually released her from the conservatorship after she obtained medical exams showing her competency. But with her assets gone, she is now living in government-subsidized public housing.
State Sen. Mae Beavers, a Mt. Juliet Republican and the Senate sponsor, said the bill also would give judges considering a conservatorship petition greater discretion on who was responsible to pay lawyers’ fees and other costs related to the case.
She said that under the current law, only the target or ward of the conservatorship can be charged the fees. The new provision would allow a judge to charge other parties, such as someone who filed a frivolous or unwarranted petition.
The House version of the bill filed by state Rep. Gary Odom, a Nashville Democrat, is scheduled for a vote Monday.
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Nashville Woman's Plight Leads Senate to Amend Guardian Law