K. Kelso Law
What is a Conservatorship: Understanding Britney Spears' Conservatorship
Updated: Feb 16
This past year, the #FreeBritney movement has been splashed across every major news outlet, turning Britney Spears’ fight in court to free her of her conservatorship into casual dinner conversation. The events of the past three years involving the pop princess have sparked a massive online presence, leaving many wondering exactly what a conservatorship is and how exactly she was forced into one.
What is a Conservatorship?
You may have heard that Britney Spears was held under a conservatorship, but what actually is this legal status?
A conservatorship occurs when:
A court has deemed an individual as incapacitated
A court appoints a conservator to manage an incapacitated individual person’s personal and financial affairs
If you are considering a conservatorship for your loved one, it is essential to speak with a lawyer, to help you understand all of your options.
How to Get a Conservatorship
Before you jump on the conservatorship bandwagon, first consider the pros, cons, and hoops. While all decisions relating to the conservatee will always be monitored by the court, a significant disadvantage is the court process itself. Court fees, potential attorney fees, and potential third-party professional fees can rack up pretty quickly, making the cost of having a conservatorship quite high.
Conservatorships are a delicate dance between the conservators and the conservatee, so here are some questions to consider:
Is your loved one disabled?
Can your loved one make decisions about money and their living situation?
Is your loved one struggling to remember to pay bills?
Are you suspicious of other people using undue influence over your loved one for financial gain?
Do you try to help your loved one with daily tasks only for them to become indignant or refuse to allow any help?
If someone can no longer handle their own financial or personal affairs, the court can name an individual to act on behalf of the incapacitated person. If the matters involve a minor, it is usually deemed a guardianship, while a conservatorship helps an adult. These terms are interchangeable, however, and states define these terms differently. It’s important to consult an attorney to determine the best decision for your situation.
Why Does Britney Spears Have a Conservatorship?
Britney Spears’ conservatorship is a story about fame, power, drugs, and neglect. The timeline of events that led to Spears’ conservatorship goes a little something like this:
2006 paparazzi images of Spears’ driving in Malibu with her first child in her lap sparks controversy
2006 child welfare visit to home after son fell out of a high chair and suffered a minor skull fracture
2006 files for divorce from Kevin Federline
2007 multiple admissions to drug and alcohol rehab centers
Infamous head shave
Infamous SUV umbrella attack
2007 divorce finalized
2008 committed to a psychiatric ward and put on 5150 involuntary psychiatric hold under California state law
2008 entered into conservatorship with father, Jamie Spears
Alternatives to a Conservatorship
A conservatorship should be viewed as a last resort when considering the demand of the role itself. It’s essential to cover each option and determine the best solution for your situation with guidance from a knowledgeable attorney.
Some alternatives include:
Advanced Healthcare Directive (living will)
Britney Spears struggled for years to regain control of her freedom, but thankfully not every conservatorship works the way it did for Spears. Sit down with your attorney and determine the best course of action for you and your loved ones.