What Is A Conservatorship?

In a legal battle that gained worldwide attention, singer Britney Spears recently ended a 13-year conservatorship with her father, Jamie Spears. The coverage and resulting social media movement #freeBritney highlighted the topic of conservatorship, raising many questions on the court proceeding.

What is a conservatorship?

A conservatorship is a court proceeding in which a probate judge appoints a person to assume legal responsibility for a person who is unable to make his or her own decisions. Typically, conservatorships are established to protect formerly competent adults who lose their ability to care for themselves properly. Conservatorships are common in cases where the person is suffering from dementia, or if they’re in a coma, missing, or otherwise physically or mentally incapacitated.

In the case of Britney Spears, her father set up a conservatorship in 2008 after she had a public breakdown in 2007 and was hospitalized for mental health issues. The elder Spears managed the star’s affairs until Britney petitioned the court to have the conservatorship terminated. On Nov. 12, a judge ended the 13-year conservatorship.

When is a conservatorship required?

A conservatorship may be necessary if a person is unable to manage his or her business affairs or property.

A conservatorship is generally not necessary for individuals born with a life-long disability or those who have a durable Power of Attorney.

What is the difference between conservatorship and guardianship?

A conservator takes care of an incapacitated adult’s property, while a guardian cares for the incapacitated adult’s personal needs. One person can serve as both the conservator and guardian.

Who can serve as a conservator?

A probate judge will appoint any competent person age 18 and older or a professional conservator. A spouse, parent, child, or a relative with whom the individual has lived for more than six months are generally selected, however, a judge may appoint another person who is capable and willing to serve.

What are the duties and powers of a conservator?

The conservator oversees the individual’s property and assets. He or she must use the property for the care, support, and benefit of the individual and his or her dependents. A conservator may not use the assets for his or her benefit. Conservators are required to report to the court on an ongoing basis.

Help is available

The estate planning attorneys at O’Reilly Rancilio are available to answer your questions regarding conservatorships. For more information, please call 586-726-1000 or visit our website.

Categories: Estate Planning