Due to concern over the cost and expense associated with conservatorship cases, Davidson County Judge Randy Kennedy joined with Memphis Probate Judge Bob Benham and Chattanooga Clerk and Master Lee Akers last month on a Tennessee Bar Association panel in Nashville.
Appearing before more than 100 attorneys to discuss fees and compensation for attorneys and non-attorney fiduciaries, Judge Kennedy provided the participants with a reminder that Tennessee case law requires that these fees must be both “Reasonable and Necessary.” Judges Kennedy and Benham also presented a seminar to judges on this subject in 2012 at the Tennessee Judicial Conference.
As judge of the Seventh Circuit Court of Davidson County since 2003, Judge Kennedy presently has more than 1,900 pending cases dealing with disabled adults, with approximately 250 more being filed in Nashville each year. Judge Kennedy handles more conservatorship cases than any other judge in Tennessee. These cases range from those adults who have suffered crippling strokes or dementia, traumatic brain injuries, to ALS, and Alzheimer’s disease.
As the “Baby Boomer” generation continues to age, these types of cases are expected to increase dramatically. Judge Kennedy also presented a detailed review of procedures on this subject to about 50 members of the Nashville Bar Association on March 18. Reflecting on the legal profession’s continuing obligation to “be vigilant in determining what is in the best interest of the disabled adult”; Judge Kennedy announced the implementation of new procedures on the approval of attorneys’ fees and non-attorney compensation for those who serve as conservators and guardians.
He also reminded the participants at both gatherings of the invaluable website tool that is provided for lawyers and non-lawyers alike by Nashville Circuit Court Clerk Richard R. Rooker on Probate matters. A copy of that announcement follows. The website for the Circuit Court Clerk is:
Seventh Circuit Court Procedures
Fees and Compensation
Conservatorship, Guardianship & Estate Cases
All court appointed fiduciaries, self-represented litigants, and attorneys seeking payment of fees
and compensation and! or reimbursement or expense payments, are required to comply with
applicable Statutes, Case Law, and Rules and Procedures adopted by the Tennessee Supreme
Court, and Trial Courts of the 20th Judicial District, commonly referred to as the Local Rules of
Court (LR). Due to the complexity of these matters, self-represented litigants are encouraged
(but are not required) to retain a lawyer to represent them in these matters.
All interested parties who anticipate filing a Motion or Application for fees, compensation, or reimbursement (or who intend to object to any Motion or Application for fees, compensation or reimbursement) shall be and are required to file documentation in conformity with Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure (TRCP) and LR 26, and 39.14, respectively. Among materials you are encouraged to review are Tennessee Code Annotated, (TCA) 34-1-112, 34-1-113, 34-1-114, 30-1-407, and Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) 1.1, 1.5 and 1.8.
All Motions are scheduled for Friday at 10:00 a.m., unless specially set by the Court for another
day. The court does not require Attorneys or other parties seeking compensation, fees or
reimbursement to appear on the Motion Docket if no opposition is filed to said Motion. Upon
examination of documentation presented by the moving party, if the Court finds that the Motion
is proper and accurate, the court has historically signed unopposed Orders Approving Fees and
Compensation on that same Friday It is in the best interest of all litigants for this court to
delay entry of said unopposed Orders for a period of no less than 3 additional days to allow the
court a greater period of time to examine and scrutinize all such unopposed Motions.
You are also referred to http://circuitclerk.nashville.gov./probate for additional information,
including recommended sample forms which have been provided by the court to reflect the
minimal information which the court requires from any person seeking fees, compensation, or
reimbursement. Note that these forms are not all inclusive and are modified by the court from
time to time as circumstances dictate in an effort to insure that all important and material
information is provided to the court, to wards in conservatorship and guardianship cases, and to
all other interested parties.