When we discuss issues such as powers of attorney, we often speak of them in relation to elderly people who are unable to take care of themselves or their finances, or sometimes children who need a trustee to look after these matters until they become legal age. However, as seen in recent headlines, these types of arrangements can sometimes be put into place when the grantor is a younger adult. A recent television documentary produced by the New York Times shed light on the situation of Britney Spears and her attempts to free herself of a conservatorship.
Britney Spears’ quick rise to stardom leads to personal problems
The entire world watched as Britney Spears was catapulted into the pop culture stratosphere when she emerged as a star in the late 1990s. She was one of the most successful musicians of the decade, and her life was lived in the public eye. Tabloid coverage of Spears followed her through her marriage, the birth of two children, and troubles with mental health.
These mental health troubles led to her father being put in place to manage both her personal well-being as well as her financial well-being in 2008. In the United States, this arrangement is known as conservatorship, and it’s similar to the powers of attorney used in Canada.
Since 2008, Spears’ father, James, has had control of nearly every aspect of her life. In 2019 he stepped back as her personal conservator but remains a co-conservator of her estate. It’s this later conservatorship that has made the news lately.
Spears looks to remove father from conservatorship
The documentary, Framing Britney Spears, as well as accompanying stories in the Times, explains that in 2020 Spears looked to take steps to remove her father as her conservator. Back in November, a judge declined to remove her father as a conservator of her estate but added a financial institution as a co-conservator. This past December, a judge issued an order that an interim personal conservator assigned to Spears when her father stepped back from that role, be in place until at least September 2021.
The Times also notes that Spears may look to take steps to remove her conservatorships altogether in the near future. A pop-culture movement known as #FreeBritney is gathering support for her. The documentary spends time discussing how the media became hyper-critical of her life following the birth of her children and the end of her marriage, while the men in her life, including Justin Timberlake, were treated with much more generosity.
Those in the Spears’ camp have remained largely silent on the issue outside of court, though an article published by Harper’s quotes her brother as saying,
“She’s been in this thing for quite some time now. Obviously, there was a need for it in the beginning. Now they’ve made some changes, and all we can do is hope for the best…She’s always wanted to get out of it. It’s very frustrating to have—whether someone’s coming in peace to help or coming in with an attitude, having someone constantly tell you to do something has got to be frustrating. She’s wanted to get out of it for quite some time.”
If you have been appointed a trustee, executor, attorney for property, or attorney for personal care, contact Derfel Estate Law to speak with an estates lawyer. We regularly provide guidance to fiduciaries to ensure they are carrying out all of their obligations and making decisions that are in the best interests of testators or grantors, while minimizing the fiduciaries’ legal risks. Call us at 416-847-3580 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.