What We Can Learn From Britney Spears’ Conservatorship Battle & These Famous Cases

In 2008, singer Britney Spears, now 39, was placed into a legal conservatorship controlled by her father, Jamie Spears. In doing so, her father gained control of her finances, career, and overall well-being. In February, the Los Angeles Superior Court continued the conservatorship but overruled her father’s objections of Bessemer Trust being named as co-conservator of Britney’s estate.

Following the airing of The New York Times documentary “Framing Britney Spears,” #FreeBritney activists began to question what is often left silent over conservatorships. After Britney’s public breakdown in 2008 and the increasingly noticeable erratic behavior, Britney was put under a “5150 hold” in a psychiatric hospital for a mental health evaluation.

Britney is not the first celebrity to be placed under the rule of a conservatorship. According to reports, the following celebrities have been or continue to be subjected to the terms of a conservatorship:

  • Casey Kasem: As a result of deteriorating health from Parkinson’s Disease, Kasem was placed under a conservatorship.
  • Amanda Bynes: Bynes was placed under a conservatorship by her mother after mental health complications and drug use.
  • Joni Mitchell: After suffering a brain aneurysm, Mitchell’s friend became her conservator; though recovering, the conservatorship is still in effect.
  • Randy Meisner: Following the trauma of losing his wife, Meisner requested to go under a temporary conservatorship.
  • Peter Falk: Falk’s health began to decline as a result of Alzheimer’s; his wife holds custody over his adopted children.
  • Mickey Rooney: After being a victim of elder abuse, Rooney willingly entered a conservatorship to avoid further loss to his estate.

Now, fans of the pop star are wondering if the conservatorship–typically for the elderly and mentally ill–is still needed. According to Zoe Brennan-Krohn, a staff attorney with the ACLU, Britney’s story is just “one of the untold thousands nationwide…that people get into conservatorships and guardianships that they can’t get out of.”

What can we learn from Britney Spears’ conservatorship battle?

Under Tennessee law, upon the determination of who should be appointed as a conservator, that individual will be given certain powers and rights, including:

  • Executing documents
  • Purchasing
  • Voting
  • Managing property
  • Contracting
  • Health care decisions
  • Financial decisions

What is important to know under Tennessee conservatorships is that the court’s order with regard to the authority must ensure that no rights are inadvertently taken away from the individual with the disability. This means that the court should establish a conservatorship that is as least restrictive as possible. In addition, as the individual’s health and mental status change over time, the conservatorship may be modified and terminated.

It would seem now the question in the Spears’ conservatorship battle is–Is Britney able to care and maintain her estate for herself? While there are many things yet unknown to the public, one thing is certain, these internal family struggles are not uncommon in conservatorships.

If you have a conservatorship in Tennessee that needs reevaluation or are seeking a conservatorship over a loved one, contact the probate litigation attorneys of MHPS.

Our Nashville Conservatorship Lawyers are Ready to Help

If you need assistance establishing a conservatorship or are questioning if the conservatorship is still in the best interest of the individual in Franklin or Williamson County or the surrounding communities, it’s best to discuss the situation with an experienced family lawyer. The Tennessee conservatorship lawyers at MHPS can help you understand the necessary steps in arranging future care for your loved one.

We’re here to help. Contact our conservatorship lawyers now for more information.

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