Q: Does the Claims Commissioner of the State of Tennessee have the right to ask a claimant "Who is preparing legal document
Our family filed a claim against the state of tennessee for wrongful death. Our brother was allowed to die in prison, as a result of in-adequate medical attention. The claims commissioner along with the state attorney General has said that I cannot assist my mother who is feeble, with legal documents. Can they do this?
A: The first thing to keep in mind is that the attorney general does not represent you, and are not in a position to give you legal advice. If your mother requests your help, you are certainly within your rights to assist her with understanding and completing legal documents. In Tennessee, a person can serve as a power of attorney, also sometimes called "attorney in fact". The person giving you power of attorney must be considered competent to make their own decisions, for the appointment to be valid. If it is a matter of assisting with signatures alone, then there is a lot of history in the law of people having assistance signing documents. It often happens that family members assist with answering written questions in cases. The point to keep in mind is that they are not empowered to prevent you from assisting your mother. It most likely means they would prefer that you not do that. Since it is not their case, it is not their call. However, to the extent that the claims commissioner gives you a ruling or some direction, it will be to your benefit to follow what the commissioner says, even if that means contacting an attorney to represent you to understand what the commissioner means. The commissioner is the decider of the case, so what the commissioner says and does is important to your case. It is possible that the circumstances under which the state made the comments about assisting your mother were related to certain moments in the case where the court wanted to see what your mother could produce on her own.
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