Are Conservatorships Ever Necessary?

The #FreeBritney Movement has thrown the issue of conservatorship into the forefront. Conservatorships are not considered a particularly incendiary legal tool. Still, it’s normal for questions and concerns to be asked when the details of a public figure’s conservatorship's circumstances are shrouded in mystery. The example of Britney Spears provides insights that are not common.

As a celebrity, the public knows many things about her life without knowing information vital to determining whether her conservatorship is needed. Before we, the public, can determine whether or not Ms. Spear’s situation should be changed, we’d need to know many aspects of her mental, physical, and financial health.

Conservatorship Explained

A conservatorship is a legal tool used to give one or more people control over an adult person's affairs. Conservatorships are deemed necessary when an adult person loses the capacity to make decisions for themselves that won’t bring harm to their physical or financial health. Most conservatorship situations are created to help the party in question make decisions for their personal affairs because they have a perceived limitation.

There are four types of conservatorship:

  • Financial: An individual or group is given control over the financial affairs of another person. The power applies to all monetary issues, including taxes, investments, and real estate.
  • Physical: An individual or group is given control over the physical health decisions of another person.
  • General: An individual or group is given control over all the affairs of another person. A general conservatorship is more common than the other types.
  • Limited: An individual or group is given the power to make selected decisions on behalf of another person. In this type of conservatorship, the person in question retains the majority of their autonomy.

Examples of Conservatorship Deemed Necessary

There are several examples of celebrities being placed into a conservatorship situation. In the most well-known example, Britney Spears has been under a conservatorship for over ten years. She is fighting for greater autonomy and freedom. She was placed under a conservatorship in 2008 when she suffered a mental breakdown. Her father was granted a temporary conservatorship to dictate her affairs, and he was eventually placed as her permanent conservator. Another famous name also was placed under a conservatorship in 2015. She suffered a brain injury, and a close friend was named conservator until her health improved.

Conservatorships are necessary for those situations when a person cannot make choices due to some diminished capacity. The conservator in these situations has a fiduciary responsibility to the person in the conservatorship. They are required to act in the person’s best interest in every instance. One of the most important takeaways from the recent highlights of Britney Spear’s conservatorship is the reality of how difficult it may be to remove a conservatorship once it has been put into place.

A Family Law Attorney Can Help

Conservatorships are complicated legal arrangements. Before assuming the responsibility and care for another person, it’s important to know the entirety of the inciting circumstance and work with a legal representative to ensure the right choices are being made for all parties. At Samra Dhillon & Associates, we have family law attorneys on staff who can help you develop a strategy for your unique situation. Call us today at (916) 571-1550 to schedule a consultation.