What is a Conservatorship and When is One Warranted?

If a loved one over time becomes unable to adequately care for themselves in certain situations a conservatorship may become necessary. In our next few posts we discuss conservatorship basics including when they may be needed, the basic steps involved in establishing one, and the contentious struggle that can sometimes accompany conservatorship litigation.

To illustrate when establishing a conservatorship is likely warranted, we first look to the entertainment industry and the emotional struggles of Britney Spears in 2007. After a 2008 custody battle suspended Ms. Spears’ visitation rights with her own children, Ms. Spears’s father petitioned the court to establish a conservatorship over his daughter. Due to her apparent inability to make rational life, career, and financial decisions, the court established the conservatorship to help ensure her well-being. Her father’s management skills seem to have aided Spears a great deal in her recovery and his duties have continued even as late as 2016.

It appears Ms. Spears has righted the ship and her star power has risen again. While Ms. Spears renewed professional success is attributable in large part to her talent and dedication, arguably, her family’s decision to pursue a conservatorship for Ms. Spears gave her the support and resources necessary to allow her to regain the stability desperately needed in her personal life.

Another famous conservatorship recently occurred after an aneurysm rendered the musical genius, Joni Mitchell, unable to communicate. A close friend of Ms. Mitchell’s secured a conservatorship to assist Ms. Mitchell in making important healthcare decisions in the wake of her illness. Mitchell’s conservatorship seems more directed at the management of her personal care rather than finances, but the overall purpose remains to help someone who cannot help herself.

Celebrity conservatorships can help illustrate the circumstances when a conservatorship is warranted. Next week, we will discuss the factors a court considers when deciding whether to grant a conservatorship.

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