Britney Spears was one of the most iconic popstars of the early 2000’s, and as such, most aspects of her personal life have played out in the public eye – including her placement in a conservatorship thirteen years ago. The circumstances around her conservatorship have attracted attention within the past year with the release of the documentary, Framing Britney Spears, and the court’s review of Spears’s case, specifically regarding the ability of her father, Jamie Spears to serve as conservator.
The conversation around this high-profile case has led many to question what a conservatorship is, the purpose it serves, and what it really entails.
WHAT IS A CONSERVATORSHIP?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a conservator is “a person, official, or institution designated to take over and protect the interests of an incompetent.” An incompetent or incapacitated person is legally referred to as a “ward.”
A conservatorship can be over a person, property, or both. In a property conservatorship, the conservator is authorized to maintain and manage the ward’s financials and property. The conservator may only use the funds for the ward’s wellbeing and care. Conservatorship over the person requires the conservator to make decisions that involve the physical affairs of the ward, such as whether the conservator believes the ward is capable of driving, as well as medical decisions.
HOW IS A CONSERVATOR APPOINTED?
Typically, a conservator is appointed when an interested person, typically a family member of an individual deemed incompetent or incapacitated, files a petition in court requesting appointment of a conservator. In Tennessee, in addition to the petition, a Physician’s Statement in Support of Conservatorship is also filed. This report must state that the physician has visited with the ward within ninety days of filing and has concluded that, in his or her professional opinion, a conservatorship is needed.
HOW IS A CONSERVATORSHIP MONITORED?
Conservators are required to submit an Annual Status Report that includes an accounting statement of the ward’s financials, as well as the ward’s physical condition. Courts then review the annual report, and may call a conservator in for questions over any information in the annual report.
If a ward or other interested party believes that the conservator is not carrying out the duties of his or her position properly, or is displaying signs of abuse of power, they may petition the court for a hearing. Upon petition, the court will hold a hearing regarding any allegations, and make a determination as to the future of the conservatorship.
WAYS TO PREVENT THE CONSERVATORSHIP PROCESS
Power of Attorney forms, such as a Durable Power of Attorney for Financial and a Healthcare Power of Attorney helped to alleviate the need for a Conservatorship, as well as the use of a Revocable Trust. Appointing agent allows you to select who oversees your medical decisions and financial decisions if you are ever in need of assistance.
To learn more about Durable Power of Attorney for Financial, Healthcare Power of Attorney, Revocable Trusts, or conservatorships please visit our website: https://www.fidelislawfirm.com/estate-planning-and-probate/ or call 615-370-3010.