In 2008, singer Britney Spears lost full control over her estate and assets (today estimated at $60 million) when her father and an attorney were named the co-conservators of her estate. A conservator is a person(s) chosen by the courts to protect an incapacitated or incapable adult’s financial affairs and estate. In this case, the unplanned conservatorship was deemed necessary due to several alleged public mental breakdowns suffered by the singer. Those around her were concerned that she was incapable of making financial decisions for herself and vulnerable to people trying to take advantage of her. Typically, a conservator is responsible for such duties as:
- Paying monthly bills
- Managing investments
- Purchasing or selling property
- Filing tax returns and appropriate forms with the state regarding financial dealings
In this particular conservatorship, the duties also include controlling her career and extend into Spears’ personal life – keeping her distanced from toxic relationships, poor life choices and protecting her mental health. Over the years, the courts have allowed different people to act as co-conservators, including her sister and other lawyers. As of the writing of this blog, Spears’ father remains part of the conservatorship team – despite repeated requests to have him removed or suspended.
Spears’ attorneys have tried unsuccessfully to have the conservatorship terminated. Cancelling a conservatorship is not an easy or straightforward matter – nor is the removal of a conservator. Ultimately, the courts decide whether or not the conservatorship is still warranted in each unique situation. The courts assess each situation from all angles to determine whether or not it is in the best interest of the protected person to have the conservatorship terminated.
There are many people who feel that Spears is being framed, manipulated and controlled, leading to the #FreeBritney movement to allow her to regain control of her estate. It is a complicated situation. Could it have been avoided if she had specifically named a durable financial power of attorney in her estate plan? It is hard to say if having this legal document could have prevented the conservatorship, but it is a designation that most estate planning lawyers recommend including as part of a comprehensive estate plan.
Although most of us will never achieve the fortune that Spears has, it is still important to protect your financial future by creating a comprehensive estate plan and appointing people you trust to handle your affairs if necessary. An experienced estate planning lawyer in Denver can help. With legal representation on your side, you can rest a little easier knowing you have done everything possible to plan for your future.
To learn more about estate planning and conservatorships in Denver, contact Brown & Crona, LLC to arrange an appointment: (303) 339-3750 or visit our website.