There is a court update in the ongoing Britney Spears conservatorship case, keeping this unusual legal arrangement in the headlines.
What’s new? In this most recent recent development, a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge rejected a request from Britney’s lawyer to remove the singer’s father as conservator of her estate, despite claims that with Jamie Spears in charge, the singer felt unable to return to work.
“My client has informed me that she is afraid of her father,” Samuel D. Ingham III, Spears’s court-appointed lawyer, told the judge, according the The Associated Press. “She will not perform again if her father is in charge of her career.”
Those on Jamie Spears’s side cite how well Britney’s father has managed financial and personal decisions related to his daughter, and his commitment to her well-being. The judge left the door open to consider further petitions for Jamie Spears’s removal “down the road.” A final hearing in the matter is scheduled for February 2021.
For fans of the #FreeBritney movement who believe Jamie’s role in the conservatorship is unjust, this latest news may be disconcerting. But for others struggling to make the right decision for a family member or loved one at risk, Britney’s conservatorship continuing to make headlines raises the question — what exactly is this arrangement and who can benefit from one?
Family law expert Bari Weinberger, our firm’s founder and managing partner, wrote extensively about the Britney Spears conservatorship in her LinkedIn article, “Britney Spears Wants Her Conservatorship Battle to Stay in the Public — Why?” She uses public details about Britney’s situation to delve more deeply into how conservatorships function.
“The singer’s conservatorship has ignited a great deal of curiosity about these arrangements and when and for whom they should apply. They are not just for celebrities. Conservatorships are most frequently sought by relatives of an elderly person. It is unusual for a young person to be sufficiently debilitated or sufficiently wealthy to need such an arrangement, but it can be appropriate, such as with an adult child with significant special needs,” Bari noted.
How conservatorships work
In a conservatorship, a judge appoints another person or organization to manage the affairs of someone who is unable to do so on their own. A conservatorship can be “of the person,” where the conservator manages personal affairs such as the details of daily living or medical needs; of the estate, where the conservator manages property and financial matters; or both as in Britney’s case. A conservatorship can begin as temporary arrangements. Temporary arrangements typically last for two or three months while the court evaluates the need for a permanent conservatorship.
Conservators must make detailed reports to the court, and must seek court approval for major decisions, such as buying or selling real estate, borrowing money, or making gifts from the estate. In a complex estate this can be a substantial amount of work. Conservators are entitled to fair compensation.
New Jersey Guardianships
In New Jersey, conservatorships are legally known as guardianships. Like California conservatorships, guardianships can be of the estate, of the person, or both. Personal guardianships can also be further limited, to confer responsibility over only one or a few areas, such as educational, medical, or legal matters. An elderly parent with dementia or an adult child with severe special needs may benefit from a guardianship covering some or all of these areas, for example, depending on the circumstances.
Changes may coming soon to guardianships in New Jersey. On August 31, New Jersey State Senator James Beach (D-Cherry Hill) introduced legislation that calls for new ethical conduct standards by guardians and provides stronger protections for wards (including minor children) and conservatees. We will provide updates as they become available.
Do you have questions about the possibility of establishing a New Jersey guardianship for a loved one? Get answers to all your questions by scheduling an initial consultation with one of our trusted family lawyers. Call us today at 888-888-0919, or please click the green button below.