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In re Conservatorship of Lemonte

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

November 17, 2017

IN RE CONSERVATORSHIP OF WALTRAUD E. LEMONTE

          Session: October 3, 2017

         Appeal from the Chancery Court for Montgomery County No. MC-CH-CV-CP-16-16 Laurence M. McMillan, Jr., Chancellor

         This appeal involves competing conservatorship petitions filed by the children of the Ward. Appellees, daughters of the Ward, filed a petition seeking to be named as co-conservators for the Ward and seeking to revoke powers of attorney executed by the Ward in favor of her son who is the Appellant. Appellant filed his answer and counter-petition to be appointed conservator. Appellees opposed Appellant's counter-petition on the ground that he is a convicted felon and, therefore, ineligible to serve as the Ward's conservator, under Tennessee Code Annotated Section 40-20-115. The trial court found that Appellant's Nevada sentence for drug charges disqualified him from serving as the Ward's agent or fiduciary. As such, the trial court revoked the Appellant's powers of attorney and dismissed Appellant's counter-petition. Discerning no error, we affirm.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery Court Affirmed and Remanded

          Ronald Ray LeMonte, Jr., Woodlawn, Tennessee, pro se.

          Ashleigh L. Travis, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Elke LeMonte and Bonnie Alice Castor.

          Kenny Armstrong, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Andy D. Bennett and W. Neal McBrayer, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          KENNY ARMSTRONG, JUDGE.

         I. Background

         Elke LeMonte, Bonnie Castor (together "Appellees"), and Appellant Ronald R. LeMonte, Jr. are the children of Waltraud E. LeMonte (the "Ward"). It is undisputed that the Ward suffers from advanced age and dementia. According to Appellees' brief, in February 2015, Appellant influenced the Ward, who was then in the beginning stages of dementia, to execute powers of attorney (general and medical) naming Appellant as her attorney-in-fact. Appellees further claim that Appellant "began a course of action encouraging the [Ward] to cease all communication with and to fear Appellees; removing financial and other documents from [the Ward's] home; and failing to notify Appellees of [the Ward's] doctors' appointments, medications, and progress[ing] medical condition."

         In 2013, Appellant was charged, in Nevada, with Possession of a Schedule I or Schedule II Controlled Substance for the Purpose of Sale, a Category D Felony as Defined by Nevada Revised Statutes Section 453.337. Specifically, Appellant was stopped by Nevada Highway Patrol, and 4, 472.4 grams of marijuana were found hidden in Appellant's vehicle. On July 11, 2016, Appellant was convicted of the offense and sentenced to a maximum of 32 months. However, Appellant's conviction was suspended (with credit for 25 days served), and he was placed on probation for 60 months.

         On April 11, 2016, before Appellant was sentenced in Nevada, Appellees filed a petition seeking to be named as co-conservators for the Ward. After Appellant was convicted of the drug offense, Appellees filed a motion to invalidate the powers of attorney executed by the Ward in favor of Appellant.

         On April 28, 2016, Appellant filed his answer and counter-petition to be appointed conservator for the Ward. Appellees opposed Appellant's counter-petition on the ground that he is a convicted felon and is, therefore, ineligible to serve as the Ward's conservator under Tennessee Code Annotated Section 40-20-115, infra.

         On June 10, 2016, the trial court entered an agreed order, under which the parties agreed, inter alia, that Appellant would not use the powers of attorney pending further orders of the court. Appellant was also ordered to return the Ward's personal property and to refrain from removing any items from her home. On July 26, 2016, Appellees filed a motion to deem the powers of attorney invalid and to dismiss Appellant's counter-petition to be appointed conservator. Appellant opposed this motion. By order of September 13, 2016, the trial court invalidated the powers of ...


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