Harry Williams
Attorney and Counsellor at Law

Professional, Practical, Prompt
220 East King Street, Suite 110
Johnson City, TN 37601-0110
Tel 423.773.3382
Fax 423.328.8434

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Elder Law

Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors (Free to the Public)

By Elizabeth Todaro on Mon, 02/10/2014 - 4:55pm

The TBA Public Education Committee has updated The Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors for 2014. The updated Handbook contains practical seniorhandbookinformation on a wide range of topics, including issues such as applying for Social Security benefits, long-term care considerations and estate planning, as well as completely new sections addressing online security and new health care legislation. An updated list of resources relevant for Tennessee Seniors is also included.

Copies are available now for download or by order in printed form. For more information about the project, to request a presentation in your area or to volunteer to help promote the Handbook,  contact TBA Access to Justice / Public Education Coordinator Liz Todaro


The "Medicaid" program in Tennessee is known as "TennCare" and operates in conjunction with the United States Department of Health and Human tenncareServices. TennCare is one of the oldest Medicaid managed care programs in the country, having begun on January 1, 1994. It is the only program in the nation to enroll the entire state Medicaid population in managed care.

TennCare services are offered through managed care entities. Medical, behavioral and Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) are covered by "at risk" managed care organizations (MCO) in each region of the state.

Long-Term Services and Supports are provided in Nursing Facilities (NFs) and Intermediate Care Facilities for persons with intellectual disabilities (ICF/IID), as well as by Home and Community Based Services providers. The program is known as CHOICES and involves long-term care for persons who are elderly and disabled. More information about the CHOICES program can be found here.

Estate Reovery

The State of Tennessee is required by federal and state law* to have a red barnprogram that seeks to recover certain funds paid by the TennCare (Medicaid) program after the person is deceased. By carefully planning your estate, you can avoid estate recovery and insure that your real and personal property go to your heirs rather than the state pf Tennessee. And it is all legal so long as you are careful and do your paper work at least five years in advance.


States must pursue recovery of costs for medical assistance consisting of:

  • Nursing home or other long-term institutional services;
  • Home- and community-based services (including home health and private duty nursing);
  • Hospital and prescription drug services provided while the person was receiving nursing home or home- and community-based services; and
  • At State option, any other items covered by the Medicaid State Plan.

Elder Abuse

You've read the newspaper stories or seen the reports on TV: an elderly elder womanperson is physically, emotionally, or sexually abused or financially exploited by a family member, or a patient in a long-term care facility is victimized by a staff member. When something like this happens, we all ask ourselves how, and we wonder why someone can't intervene before these crimes are committed. The truth is, someone could (and should) have helped long before any elder was victimized. 

Currently in Tennessee, only 1 in 23 cases of elder abuse is reported. Many times it's because the victim lives with someone who controls the elder's access to the outside world, finances, meals, medication, and everything else. Bruises go unnoticed, and the behavioral signs aren't witnessed, so the abuse continues.

More than two-thirds of elder abuse perpetrators are family members.


To report abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an older person call 1.888.APS.TENN or 1.888.277.8366. You may also want to read the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's Crimes Against the Elderly Report for the 2009-2011 reporting period.

For assistance with Medicaid, Estate Recovery or Elder Abuse

call Harry Williams at 423.773.3382 or email:

The initial conultation is free.