Prompted by recent action in the General Assembly, the Tennessee Bar Association is set to begin a statewide series of hearings on possible reforms to the two-decades-old law governing conservatorships.
Association President Jacqueline Dixon said the goal is to get a wide variety of opinions from the public.
“And not just lawyers. We hope to get some good evidence,” she said.
Among the items most likely to be addressed are measures to ensure that those placed in a conservatorship retain as many of their rights as possible.
In a conservatorship, a person’s right to control everything from his or her health care to finances is turned over to a court-appointed person.
The initial hearings are set for Thursday in Nashville, with other sessions set for Memphis, Chattanooga and a fourth site yet to be determined in the eastern part of the state.
The bar association’s efforts were prompted by state Rep. Gary Odom, who proposed a series of reforms after hearing of the case of Jewell Tinnon, the Nashville woman who lost her house, car and personal possessions during a conservatorship that was later dissolved. Tinnon filed suit against the agency that oversaw her conservatorship, but the suit was dropped after a dispute between Tinnon and her attorneys, including Rachel Odom, the legislator’s spouse.
Probate Judge David “Randy” Kennedy, whose court handles conservatorship cases in Davidson County, said in an email that he was “delighted” the bar association was holding the hearings.
“Because statutory law cannot remain static and must evolve to meet the needs of a changing society I anticipate that the task force will make specific recommendations to the legislature on matters that will aid the courts in enhancing the services that we are obligated to provide to all of our elderly and disabled citizens,” Kennedy wrote.
Earlier this year Kennedy announced he had instituted new procedures in his court requiring conservators to file notice in the event a person’s condition improved and a conservator was no longer required.
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Conservatorship Reform Hearing Slated