News

Community Forum Explores Social Security Issues

The year’s first Community Legal Forum – a joint initiative of the Bradley County Bar Association, the Bradley Governmental Law Library Commission and the Cleveland/Bradley Public Library – will take place June 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the library. Cleveland attorney Jack Tapper will lead the session, which is free and open to the public. The program will look at the basics of processing Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income claims as well as ways to increase Social Security benefits for married, divorced and widowed spouses, the Cleveland Banner reports.

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B.B. King Family Loses Battle for Control

Family members of Blues legend B.B. King lost a bid to take control of their ailing father’s affairs in a Las Vegas courtroom on Thursday. Three of King’s 11 surviving children asked the court to take control from King’s longtime business manager because they said he was stealing money and neglecting King’s medical care. The judge ruled there was no evidence to back up the claims, WRCB-TV reports.

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Hooker Weighs in as Committee Considers 'Death with Dignity'

This summer, state lawmakers will gather to discuss the controversial issue of death with dignity and whether or not those with a terminal illness have the right to decide when to die. Now John Jay Hooker, who has been diagnosed with terminal melanoma, is championing this cause and fighting for the right to die with dignity. “I think if a person is suffering wants to leave this earth that the government’s got no business to tell them that they got to suffer and stay,” he told WKRN.

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New Series for Elder and Health Law Attorneys Starts in May

A new webcast series starts May 5 and runs to the end of the month for elder law and health law attorneys. This series addresses TennCare changes, managed care delivery, intellectual disabilities and Medicaid coverage.

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New CLE Series for Elder, Health Law Lawyers

A new CLE webcast series starts May 5 and runs through the end of the month for elder law and health law lawyers. The series will address TennCare changes, managed care delivery, intellectual disabilities and Medicaid coverage. Sign up for one or all of the sessions on the TBA CLE website.

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Nashville Lawyers Form New Firm

Four Nashville lawyers have joined together to form the law firm of Surber, Asher, Surber & Moushon. The firm will focus on personal injury, business and construction law, professional liability and insurance defense, and probate and conservatorship law. Joel Surber, Garrett Asher and Matt Moushon were formerly partners at Parker, Lawrence, Cantrell & Smith. Jennifer Surber formerly served as counsel to the Davidson County Probate Court and as Special Probate Master for the Seventh Circuit Court.

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Legal Aid Releases Public Guide to Conservatorships

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands has released a new free brochure on conservatorship in Tennessee, the Leaf Chronicle reports. It provides information to family members, caregivers and friends who may want to help someone by becoming their conservator, as well as to those who need or already have a conservator making their decisions. For both groups, the booklet outlines basic information such as what a conservatorship is, the types of conservatorships available, the legal requirements to become a conservator, how to apply for a conservator to be appointed and how to end a conservatorship. Download a copy or pick up hard copies from your local legal aid office.

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Bradley County Sheriff’s Office Forms Alzheimer’s Directory

Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson has announced the formation of an Alzheimer’s Directory for the use of officers and staff at BCSO. At the request of family members, a senior assist officer will respond to a residence to take a photograph of and collect information for the log book that will describe a family member with Alzheimer’s disease. All information, including the family member’s photograph, will remain confidential unless needed to assist law enforcement personnel identify and return home a family member who has wandered away. The Chattanoogan has more.

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New App Helps with Health Care Decisions

A new smartphone app developed by the ABA’s Commission on Law and Aging allows individuals and families to manage and share their health care advance directives and related information. The app, which offers unlimited storage and management of personal and family profiles and documents, is the latest resources released by the commission to help individuals make health care decisions. Other tools include a multi-state health care power of attorney, a consumer’s toolkit for health care advance planning and a guide to making medical decisions for others.

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KBA Offers Free LawTalk Program

The Knoxville Barr Association will offer its 2014 LawTalk Program Nov. 7 and 8 for area residents. This year’s program will cover two topics: (1) wills and estate planning, and (2) legal protections for the elderly, disabled and their caregivers. On both days, the wills presentation will take place from 9 to 10:45 a.m. followed by the legal protections presentation from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. The first session will take place at the O’Connor Senior Center, 611 Winona St. The Nov. 8 session will be held at Fellowship Church, 8000 Middlebrook Pike. Free parking is available at both locations and handout material will be provided. Download a flyer with details.

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TBJ Has Employment Law Updates, Elder Law Resources

Journal columnists Edward G. Phillips and Brandon L. Morrow tell you about recent amendments to employment law, which you need to know whether you represent employees, employers or both. In the same issue, columnist Monica Franklin explains and gives valuable resources for talking with senior adults about driving and help in determining when Momma needs to get off the road.

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Clinic, Free CLE Offered in Memphis Saturday

Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS) will hold a legal clinic this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Benjamin Hooks Central Library at 3030 Poplar Ave. Clinic co-sponsors include the Memphis Bar Association, Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs and the legal department at International Paper. Following the clinic there will be a free CLE on working with clients and caregivers dealing with dementia. In exchange for the free credit, attendees must agree to handle a pro bono case or work at a legal clinic. For more information about either of these events contact Linda Seely. Learn about other Celebrate Pro Bono events across the state.

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Slatery Addresses Amendment 2, Upcoming Term

Newly appointed state Attorney General Herbert Slatery was in Knoxville yesterday with former Gov. Phil Bredesen campaigning for Amendment 2 to the state constitution. When asked by reporters how he would differ from his predecessor, Slatery said, “I think I will do it differently, which is not to say better. I am a people person. I like to build relationships.” Slatery also said he will spend time talking to legislators. “I want to see all of the sides of an issue,” he explained. Finally, he pledged the office would continue fighting Medicare fraud and protecting consumers. Knoxnews has more.

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Deadline Extended for Conservatorship Director

The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County has announced that the application deadline for the newly created position of director of the Office of Conservatorship Management has been extended to Sept. 2. The goal of the new position is to improve the administration of justice and delivery of legal services to the impaired elderly and persons with disabilities. The director will manage guardianships and conservatorships within the Metro area. The position reports to the Probate Court judge and trial court administrator. Candidates should have at least three years experience as a practicing attorney. Learn more online or download a job description.

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Money, Money, Money in August TBJ

In the August Journal, get some pointers on how to "take charge of your own economy" that will help you and your law practice. Also, our columnists cover banking and estate planning: Kathryn Reed Edge gives you the history of money and Eddy Smith explains some new trust options for married clients.

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TBA Resource for Seniors Wins Statewide Award

Legal handbook named best public service project by a Tennessee association

NASHVILLE, July 23, 2014 – For the second consecutive year, the Tennessee Bar Association earned the top public service award from the Tennessee Society of Association Executives. The Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors won the Association’s Advance Tennessee Award as the best public service project by an association in the state. The award was presented last week at a luncheon in Nashville.

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Judge: Guardians Not Entitled to Absolute Immunity

Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Hamilton Gayden has ruled that a Hendersonville woman placed in a conservatorship without her knowledge can sue her former public guardian for not acting in her best interests. The decision clears the way for Ginger Franklin to sue her former public guardian Jeanan Stuart, the Tennessean reports. Gayden had previously ruled that Franklin could not sue based on allegations that Stuart mishandled her financial affairs, but found this week that guardians are “not entitled to absolute judicial immunity for [their] alleged actions (or inactions)” and allowed a suit based on "best interest" grounds to proceed.

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BPR Opinion Looks at Disclosure of Client Wills

A formal ethics opinion issued by the Board of Professional Responsibility on June 13 looks at whether a lawyer who represented a testator can refuse to disclose the will prior to the client’s death based on attorney-client privilege or confidentiality. The opinion was requested by an attorney who says it is becoming more common for courts to order wills and other testamentary documents drafted for competent clients be made available to guardians or conservators handling the affairs of the individual after he or she is no longer competent.

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Columns Cover Labor Law, Hospice ... and Golf

In his "The Law at Work" column in the June Tennessee Bar Journal, Ward Phillips writes with co-author Brandon Morrow "that courts have not been shy to award substantial fees and costs to employers who have been required to combat frivolous claims." They look at how courts have been increasingly critical of agencies’ “sue first, ask questions later” strategy. In Monica Franklin's "Senior Moments" column, she helps you and your clients know when to choose Hospice and who pays for it, and she explains the new "Medicare Choices Model." Humor columnist Bill Haltom explores the game of golf -- and why he ended up selling his golf clubs at a yard sale.

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Nashville Mayor Proposes New Conservator Agency

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean has proposed a new Office of Public Guardian to defend the elderly and others who are not able to care for themselves. His budget, released this week, includes $195,000 to establish the office and hire a public guardian and accountant. The office would be the first publicly funded in the state. Guardians typically are paid through fees assessed on individuals receiving the assistance. Davidson County Probate Judge David “Randy” Kennedy praised the move and said he was confident the Metro Council would approve the funding. Dean’s proposal tracks recommendations from a task force Kennedy appointed.

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Hospitals’ Use of Conservatorship Law Questioned

Conservatorship reform, supported by the TBA and signed into law by the governor, has been in effect for 10 months and early reports from judges indicate the law is providing improved guidelines for handling extraordinary cases. One provision, which is just now receiving media attention, is a mechanism for hospitals to use to discharge patients that no longer need the costly care of a major health facility. A report in The Tennessean questions whether the provision is working as intended. TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur points out that the law provides a standardized method with extra due process protections for patients, while previously, hospitals had handled such matters on an ad hoc basis.

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6th Circuit Reinstates Age Bias Suit

The 6th Circuit on Friday reversed a Nashville court ruling and reinstated the age discrimination lawsuit James C. Pierson vs. Quad/Graphics Printing Corp., et al. The District Court had granted Quad/Graphics summary judgment dismissing the case, but a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit unanimously disagreed with the lower court, holding that an employee does not need to meet heightened standard of proof for age discrimination during a reduction in force. Business Insurance has more.

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Divorce, End-of-Life Care and Cybercriminals

In this issue, Helen Rogers and George Spanos outline strategies for the timing of filing for divorce in Tennessee and Eddy R. Smith discusses the painful topic of pregnancy and end-of-life care. If you weren't scared of people stealing your money electronically before, Kathryn Reed Edge's column on cybercriminals will send you running to change all your passwords and tighten your firm security.

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A Time to Be Born and a Time to Die: Pregnancy and End-of-Life Care

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die …”

— Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

Two recent heart-wrenching news stories highlight the struggle between a woman’s constitutional right to refuse medical treatment and the state’s legitimate interest in protecting the life of her baby. The stories also serve as reminders of the importance of advance directives.

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Ex-Conservator Ordered to Pay Abuse Victims

U.S. District Judge Kevin H. Sharp awarded nearly $700,000 to a mentally disabled Clay County couple victimized by sexual and financial abuse for more than six years by a court-appointed conservator Walter M. Strong. "Defendant had complete control over plaintiffs' lives and their money and he used that control for his own needs and evil desires," Sharp wrote in a 12-page order issued Tuesday. The case first came to light last year as the state General Assembly was considering a series of reforms in the state conservatorship laws. Those changes, including provisions to provide additional protections to wards, were approved and went into effect July 1. The Tennessean has the story. 

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