First, by way of background -- in California -- the legal term for guardianship is conservatorship and the term is used for both a conservatorship of a person or their property. In Massachusetts we have two terms – we use the term guardianship for a guardianship of a person and we use the term conservatorship for the conservatorship over property .
Maintaining an active guardianship practice in Massachusetts, I have watched the Brittney Spears California conservatorship case unfold as it gains attention from the national news and social media. While none of us who are not directly involved in the case, can know all the facts of Britney Spears’s situation ---her competence or her mental health --- there are definitely some puzzling and concerning aspects to her case. After watching Framing Brittney, a New York Time documentary (the link is here: Watch The Britney Spears Documentary - The New York Times (nytimes.com) ) , three issues arose.
Did Brittney Spears accept the conservatorship in the beginning because she thought that was the only way she'd be allowed to see her children or get custody of them?
he timeline of her emergency conservatorship coincided with her fight over custody and visitation with the father of her two children. As her rights to custody and visitation were being adjudicated at the same time as her competence was being questioned, she faced immense pressure to make any and all accommodations to the opposition and to the court in an effort to keep her rights to her children.
Why was Brittney Spears not allowed to pick her own attorney at the beginning of the case?
In my experience in Massachusetts, a Court would almost always allow a respondent in a guardianship proceeding to pick and hire their own counsel. Apparently that did not happen at the origination of Brittney Spears’s case. The Court held that she was not competent to choose her own counsel. Recently, Ms. Spears was allowed to pick a new attorney who has begun more aggressively championing her rights.
Were all the professionals (and her father) getting paid from Brittney Spears’s sizeable estate without oversight as to conflict of interest?
At this point, we don’t know the truth of Brittney Spears’s claim that her attorney failed to notify her of her right to file a petition to end the conservatorship, but we do know that the Court had the power to assure that all of the professionals and parties being paid from Brittney Spears’ estate were acting in her best interests and not their own. However, if an issue isn’t brought before the Court’s attention, the Court may never have occasion to make a ruling.
The most recent filing from Brittney Spears’s new attorney accuses her father, Jamie Spears, of failing to look out for her interests. Jamie Spears responded by seeking an end to the conservatorship. Brittney Spears’s new attorney promised that he would continue to pursue an investigation into the mismanagement of Brittney Spears’ estate which means we may eventually learn the answers to some of these questions even if this conservatorship ends.
If you would like a free initial consultation relative to obtaining a guardianship and/or a conservatorship, please contact the Law Offices of Martin I. Flax, P.C. at email@example.com.