Articles Tagged with Tennessee Power of Attorney

An increasing number of elderly individuals in Tennessee have begun adding their children as joint account owners on their bank account. Understandably, older parents may need assistance in paying their bills or managing their finances. However, it is important to understand the risks in adding a joint owner and the alternatives that people have. If you have questions about what alternatives you or your loved ones may have, contact The Higgins Firm.

In adding a child as a joint account owner on a bank account, many parents do not understand the impact that action can potentially have on a person’s estate. If a parent passes away leaving only one of their children as the joint account owner, that child would be considered the sole legal owner of the account. He or she would not be required to distribute the assets to anyone else as the sole owner of the account. The decedent’s Will would not have any authority as to any potential distribution of the assets because the decedent did not have sole ownership. A will only determines how assets should pass if the asset was solely owned at the time of the decedent’s death. A parent will want to take this into account when developing an estate plan.

Another potential issue in adding a child as a joint account owner is the issue of creditors. When individuals become joint owners of an account, that asset is obviously considered to be jointly owned. If the child who co-owns an account is subject to the claim of a potential creditor like in a lawsuit, then the account is considered to be the child’s asset and would be subject to the claim of the creditor. Similarly, if the child was dealing with bankruptcy proceedings, that asset would be considered to be a part of his or her assets and would thereby be subject to the bankruptcy proceeding. It is important to understand such risk in adding a joint account owner.

Recently attorney Jim Higgins stopped by WSMV’s Better Nashville to discuss the differences between a power of attorney and a conservatorship in Tennessee. Both of a power of attorney and conservatorship enable another person to make decisions or take actions on an individual’s behalf. However, there are different circumstances as to when each of these legal actions should be utilized. For instance, a power of attorney is a legal form utilized when the principal, or person granting the decision making authority, is mentally capable of granting that power to another person. In contrast, a conservatorship is a legal proceeding in which a court designates another individual, the conservator, to make decisions and take actions on behalf of the ward. The video below provides some further insight into the benefits of each. If you have any questions regarding a power of attorney or a conservatorship in Tennessee, contact The Higgins Firm.

Although many of us are willing and capable of making decisions and acting for ourselves, there are some who incapable of doing so for a number of reasons. Whether it is due to a temporary illness or a lifelong disorder, many individuals will rely upon the help of another to assist in making certain decisions or to perform specific acts. There are certain legal avenues that can be taken to enable another in making these important decisions. Both a power of attorney and a conservatorship are legal actions that allocate the decision making authority of a person to another individual. While a power of attorney and a conservatorship achieve the same goal of allocating that authority to another person, these legal actions are utilized in different circumstances depending on the situation.

It is important to identify the differences between a power of attorney and a conservatorship to know which act should be used when. A power of attorney is a written legal document that specifically allocates certain rights or powers to act or make decisions to another person. The person granting these powers is known as the “principal” or “grantor” and the person receiving the powers is known as the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact.” In other words, the principal grants certain powers to the agent who can then act on the principal’s behalf. A power of attorney can be drafted to grant a broad range of powers or a very narrow and specific power. In addition, a power of attorney can designate exactly when the powers shall be allocated to the attorney-in-fact. For instance, a power of attorney could come into effect immediately upon the principal’s signature or the powers could be allocated only upon the incapacity of the principal. A power of attorney is an easy and cost effective way to allocate authority to another individual. However, one of the main requirements of a power of attorney is the ability or capacity of the principal to allocate these powers. This document is only effective if the principal has the mental capacity to perform this legal act.

If the principal does not have the mental capacity or is not of sound mind to execute the power of attorney properly, then a conservatorship may be needed. A conservatorship is a formal legal proceeding in which a judge determines that the individual is not capable of making decisions for him or herself and that decision making authority should be granted to another person. The person who is appointed is known as the “conservator” while the disabled individual is known as the “ward.” Because a conservatorship is a legal proceeding that essentially takes away the decision making rights of another individual, it is a more involved and time intensive process that includes filing a number of required documents with the court and a hearing in front of a judge. In addition, the court will designate exactly who the best individual is to be appointed conservator at the hearing. A conservatorship will typically last throughout the life of the ward and will only be terminated by a judge.

Recently attorney Jim Higgins stopped by WSMV’s Better Nashville to discuss essential documents that every family should resolve to have this year. Those essential documents include a last will and testament, a power of attorney, and a living will. There are any number of reasons why you may put off these drafting legal documents. However, these legal documents are not expensive, and they provide your family the protection that they deserve. You can watch the interview with attorney Jim Higgins below. If you have any questions about a will, power of attorney, or living will for your family, be sure to contact The Higgins Firm today. One of our estate lawyers would be happy to provide you with any answers.

 

Recently, attorney Jim Higgins appeared on News Channel 5’s Talk of the Town to talk about some simple steps that everyone should take to protect the assets within their estate. These legal documents are inexpensive, easy to obtain, and can help prevent potential harm to your estate. Drafting a Power of Attorney for a person’s finances and a Power of Attorney for a person’s healthcare can ensure that any decisions made on your behalf in a time of need are made by someone that you trust. You can watch Jim’s interview below. If you have any questions about steps that you can take to protect your assets, contact the Tennessee estate protection attorneys at The Higgins Firm.

A Nashville attorney recently admitted to stealing nearly $1.3 million from three of his wards after being appointed conservator by the court to oversee their finances. John E. Clemmons, 66 years old, ended up spending much of that money on several gambling sprees at casinos spread across five different states.

Last Friday, Clemmons appeared in court before Judge Steve Dozier taking a plea deal that resulted in a combined sentence of 18 years on three counts of theft in addition to TennCare fraud and perjury. Clemmons had faced at least a 30 year sentence on the theft charges alone before the plea deal. Clemmons could be eligible for parole after serving approximately six years.

One of Clemmons’ victims had been the now deceased father of a disabled woman. Much of the missing money was to be placed into a special account for her care.  Additionally, Clemmons had already pled guilty to stealing $60,000 from a fourth ward in Rutherford County.