Supported Decision Making Agreement Tennessee
This year, the Tennessee General Assembly addressed many topics: opioid abuse, child marriage, and even how and when to catch a skunk. But above all, one bill caught my attention: the Supported Decision-Making Agreement Act. Becky Massey, sponsor of this legislation in the Senate, called the SDMA a “less restrictive alternative” to a power or a conservative. (Senate Judiciary Committee 1/30/18). In essence, the bill allows a person with a disability to appoint a supporter. This supporter can collect confidential information, provide all the information necessary for the person with a disability to make a decision and communicate, among other things, the decision of the disabled person. However, the supporter has no decision-making power. On the other hand, a conservative or a person provided would have decision-making power. In theory, this makes the SDMA a “less restrictive alternative” to a power of attorney or conservatory, and under Tennessee law, that is the goal. In addition, I think a power of attorney is exercised before someone can make any more decisions, does essentially the same thing as the SDMA. A person with a disability may opt for a power that comes into effect immediately, although he or she can still make decisions. The disabled person would always be the final decision maker. The proxy appointee could only help make and execute these decisions, as could the SDMA.
The Conservatory is a judicial procedure in which a court deprives a person 18 years of age or older of certain decision-making powers, often persons with disabilities or the elderly. The court then chooses a curator, a person appointed by a judge, to make decisions for the person with a disability and act in the best interests. Watch this video from our partners at The Arc Tennessee, who are participating in the “Sustained Decision Making” working group with the Council and many other disability associations in TN. The video shows a number of graduates and family members of our Policymaking Leadership Institute partners. Here`s a hypothetical situation. I need help with decision-making and I know I will need help in the future. How do I use the SDMA? I would execute the SDMA so that I could continue to make my own decisions with support. In addition to the SDMA, I would make a leaping power of attorney. A leaping power of attorney will only come into effect when a doctor declares in writing that I no longer have the mental capacity to make decisions.