Public Guardianship Program
WHAT IS THE PUBLIC GUARDIAN PROGRAM?
The Tennessee Public Guardianship for the Elderly program ensures the health and welfare of some of the state’s most vulnerable residents by serving as the court-appointed guardian for individuals age 60 and over who, due to physical or mental limitations, are unable to make personal decisions regarding their health and financial resources.
The court utilizes the program as a public option of last resort for individuals who have no other family member, friend, bank or corporation willing, able or suitable to act on their behalf. Entrusted since 1986, this program is funded by the state of Tennessee and administrated by the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability. The program is available in all 95 counties through the local grantee agency of the Area Agency on Aging and Disability (AAAD). There are nine district public guardian programs throughout the state.
WHAT DOES THE PUBLIC GUARDIAN DO FOR CLIENTS?
There are several types of public guardianship:
When appointed as the guardian over person, the guardian/conservator is permitted to make decisions related to healthcare.
When appointed as the guardian over property, the guardian/conservator is permitted to make decisions related to the estate and financial matters.
Person and Property
When appointed as guardian over the person and property or plenary guardianship, the guardian/conservator is permitted to make all health care and financial decisions.
Durable Power of Attorney
When serving a client as attorney-in-fact under a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA), the district public guardian is permitted to make decisions regarding finances and/or health care as designated by the client and set forth in the signed Power of Attorney document. The document is durable, allowing it to remain in effect in case of disability.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE CLIENT'S HOUSE AND OTHER FINANCIAL ASSETS?
Once appointed for those in need of assistance with financial and/or healthcare issues, the public guardian becomes responsible for the decision-making. They are expected to do what the client wants if possible, and if not, the guardian must adhere to the best interest of their client. This includes making appropriate healthcare decisions by reviewing medical records, talking with doctors, and gathering as much information that will allow the public guardian to act in their clients' best interest. This includes a safe living environment and managing their care. Public guardians are also immediately responsible for locating bank accounts, real estate, or any asset the client may have. If any tangible real or personal property needs to be sold, the guardian must always do this with the guidance and approval of the Court.
Any liquid assets and funds received from sales of property is then used for the care of the client. This includes any personal bills, medical care, personal items purchased as needed and income taxes filed and paid when deemed necessary. All financial decisions are made by the guardian and accounted for to the Court.
WHO OVERSEES THIS PROGRAM?
First District Public Conservator
3211 N. Roan St.
Johnson City, TN 37601
CAN I VOLUNTEER TO VISIT PUBLIC GUARDIAN CLIENTS?
Clients of the Public Guardianship Program are often frail and confined to assisted-living or other long-term-care facilities. In addition, they may be estranged from family members, or simply have no family or friends able to visit them. Volunteers are desperately needed to visit these clients monthly and provide them with a friendly face and a little conversation. For a complete job description, CLICK HERE.
Anyone interested in volunteering with the Public Guardianship Program should review and fill out the files listed below. Applicants will be required to pass a background check, and, if approved, must complete four (4) hours of training. For more information, call 423-928-0224 and ask to speak to the volunteer coordinator.
CLICK HERE to access the application packet cover letter.
CLICK HERE to access the volunteer application
CLICK HERE to access the background check form.
CLICK HERE to download the confidentiality statement.