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Columbia Family & Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Celebrity > #FreeBritney Has Everyone Wondering – What is a Conservatorship?

#FreeBritney Has Everyone Wondering – What is a Conservatorship?


What is a conservatorship? And is it different from a guardianship? Until recently, most people had no idea that a concept such as a conservatorship even existed, but ever since Britney’s legal battle with her conservatorship hit mainstream media, it’s the latest topic of conversation. For a little background: Since 2008, Britney has been under a conservatorship managed by her dad, James Spears. He has had complete control over her estimated $60 million-plus fortune. The conservator of a person, the conservatee, is authorized to manage their personal and financial affairs. Often conservatees are elderly, but not always. Conservators can be appointed due mental disorders or physical impairments of an individual.

A conservatorship is slightly less intrusive than a guardianship, as a guardian is usually appointed for a person who lacks the capacity to make any decisions for themselves. Conservators have a fiduciary duty towards the person they are appointed to assist so they must act with care and responsibility towards the conservatee’s best interest. Conservators don’t just manage the conservatee’s finances, but they can also have control over the person, their business opportunities, and their estate. Generally speaking, there aren’t many differences between a conservatorship and a guardianship. The objective of both is to help manage someone who is unable to do it for themselves, either through mental incapacity or disability.

If you’ve been following Britney, you know that her dad has had control over her entire life for the last 13 years. Britney Spears’ conservatorship is an unusual scenario though. Typically, conservatorships are used for the elderly or people with severe cognitive impairments, but Britney Spears is young, successful, and mentally stable. In 2008, when her father was appointed as a conservator, Britney was having some mental health difficulties, but over the years she has worked on her mental health to get to a stable point. She has even gone on tour during the conservatorship. Britney Spears’ conservatorship is beyond the bounds of what most normal conservatorships look like. Her father has not only controlled her finances since this began, but has also controlled her ability to get married or even to try to get pregnant.

While the law does allow for conservatees to be able to end their conservatorships, it is a long and complicated process that can take years. If an individual tries to end the conservatorship, he or she bears the burden of proving their mental capacity and has to establish why he or she no longer needs the conservatorship. Britney Spears has finally retained new representation and filed to have her father removed as the conseravator.  Wishing Britney the best as she embarks on this new legal journey to be free!

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