Colorado Probate Blog - Wade Ash Woods Hill & Farley, P.C.

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Britney Spears' Conservatorship

For the past few years, the popular cultural world has been captivated by the #FreeBritney movement - a social movement aiming to help popstar Britney Spears gain autonomy from a conservatorship she has been placed under since 2008. Conservatorships are essentially adult guardianships wherein a person can make legal, financial, and personal decisions for another. They are usually granted in order to protect the rights and assets of those with severe cognitive or mental health issues, such as dementia.

Initially, Britney was placed under a temporary conservatorship following a series of public incidents and alleged mental health issues. Her conservatorship has, for most of the past thirteen years, been managed by her father Jamie Spears. In recent months, Jamie has been accused by both Britney’s fans as well as Britney herself of conservatorship abuse. Britney, in testimony to the court, alleged her father exerted extreme control over life, including forcing her to have an IUD as well as sending her to a mental health facility as a punishment for refusing to perform.

Recently, in a major win for the #FreeBritney movement, Britney’s father has been suspended as her conservator following Britney’s impassioned plea to the court to have him removed. Britney also recently won the right to choose her own legal representation, a choice that has been denied to her by the courts for years.

Both her father’s suspension and recently granted ability to choose her own legal representation signal a coming end to Britney’s conservatorship. Her newly appointed attorney, Mathew Rosengart, has even stated that he believes Britney will be free from the conservatorship by the end of this year.

However, despite these legal wins, the question remains as to why Britney’s conservatorship has been able to last so long. As followers of the #FreeBritney movement rightfully point out, Britney, despite her status as a conservatee who is therefore unable to care for herself or estate, has, for the last thirteen years, had a very successful career. She has released four albums, gone on a worldwide tour, and spent four years playing a highly lucrative Las Vegas Residency. Her success in such an intense and public career, undoubtedly, calls into question the continued necessity of the conservatorship.

Ultimately, conservatorships are notoriously underregulated and difficult to end. Lawmakers, however, have introduced a bill seeking to protect adults in conservatorships from abuse and exploitation. The Freedom and Right to Emancipate from Exploitation Act - or “FREE” Act - would provide federal regulation for the conservatorship process and give conservatees rights that Britney has been struggling with for years, including the right to petition the court to replace their private conservator with a public one.

For now, Britney and her many fans are celebrating the big moves made in her case over the past few months. Britney has gotten engaged to her longtime boyfriend, Sam Asghari, and even announced plans to retire, both choices that were allegedly unavailable to her under her father’s care.

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