2021 Tennessee Code
Title 34 - Guardianship
Chapter 7 - Public Guardianship for the Elderly
§ 34-7-104. Powers and Duties of District Public Guardian

Universal Citation: TN Code § 34-7-104 (2021)
  1. The duties and powers of the district public guardian are as follows:

    1. To serve as conservator for disabled persons who are sixty (60) years of age or older who have no family members or other person, bank or corporation willing and able to serve as conservator;

    2. The district public guardian does not have any power or authority beyond that set forth for a conservator in Chapters 1 2 and 3 of this title; and

    3. To provide for the least intrusive alternatives, the district public guardian may accept power of attorney.

  2. The district public guardian may employ sufficient staff to carry out the duties of the office.

  3. The district public guardian may delegate to staff members the powers and duties of the office of district public guardian except as otherwise limited by law. The district public guardian retains ultimate responsibility for the discharge of required duties and responsibilities.

    1. A district public guardian may accept the services of volunteer persons and organizations, and raise money to supplement operating costs.

    2. The commission on aging, in consultation with the departments of human services and health, may develop and implement a statewide program to recruit, train, assign, supervise and evaluate volunteer persons to assist district public guardians in maintaining the independence and dignity of their elderly wards. In developing and implementing this statewide program, the commission on aging shall solicit input and resources from interested organizations, including, but not necessarily limited to, community senior citizen centers, churches and synagogues having senior projects and programs under the auspices of the American Association of Retired Persons. Each volunteer shall possess demonstrated personal characteristics of honesty, integrity, compassion and caring for the elderly. The background of each volunteer shall be subject to appropriate inquiry and investigation. Volunteers shall receive no salary but may be reimbursed by the commission on aging for travel and other expenses incurred directly as a result of the performance of volunteer services.

  4. If the disabled person qualifies for SSI benefits, no charge will be made against the disabled person's estate for court costs or fees of any kind. Under no circumstances may court costs be assessed to the public guardianship program.

  5. If the disabled person does not qualify for SSI benefits, costs and compensation of the district public guardian shall be determined under §§ 34-1-112 and 34-1-114.

    1. All funds received on behalf of a disabled person by the district public guardianship program shall be handled under a computerized accounting package approved by the commission on aging, and shall be audited annually by the state.

    2. All other assets received by the district public guardian shall be handled in accordance with state laws, rules and court regulation or regulations as to disposition of property and record keeping.

    3. Upon termination of the conservatorship, all assets remaining in the estate shall be paid over to the disabled person or to the disabled person's legal representative.

  6. While performing conservatorship duties, the district public conservator shall continue to seek a family member, friend, other person, bank or corporation qualified and willing to serve as conservator. If such an individual, bank or corporation is located, the district public conservator shall submit a motion to the court for appointment of the qualified and willing successor conservator.

  7. A person appointed successor district public guardian immediately succeeds to all rights, duties, responsibilities and powers of the preceding district public guardian.

  8. When the position of district public guardian is vacant, subordinate personnel employed under subsection (c) shall continue to act as if the position of district public guardian were filled.

  9. A district public guardian shall be required to post bond in individual cases in accordance with § 34-1-105. The commission on aging shall arrange out of the program budget to purchase a statewide bond that shall ensure the fiduciary responsibilities of the district public guardian in all court appointed cases.

  10. The district public guardian shall adhere to all state laws that are applicable to conservatorship.

  11. To ensure adequate services for each disabled person, the district public guardian shall submit certification to the court when maximum caseload has been attained, and the court shall not assign additional disabled persons while maximum caseload is maintained. Maximum caseload shall be certified by the commission on aging upon review of verifying documentation submitted by the district public guardian and the grantee agency director. The district public guardian must notify the court when caseload has been reduced to less than maximum load.

    1. Notwithstanding subsection (a) to the contrary, the executive director of the Tennessee commission on aging and disability may request the district public guardian to serve as a conservator for disabled persons who are younger than sixty (60) years of age if the following conditions are met:

      1. The request is made through a court; and

      2. The court has found on the record that:
        1. There are no other less intrusive alternatives available for the disabled person; and

        2. The disabled person has no family members or other person, bank, or corporation willing and able to serve as conservator.

    2. Should the district public guardian take on the responsibilities of a guardian for a disabled person pursuant to subdivision (n)(1), the guardian must adhere, in performing the guardian's duty, to all provisions of this chapter and to all applicable state laws.
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