Since 2008, multi-platinum pop star Britney Spears has been under a conservatorship/guardianship pursuant to the laws of the State of California. The conservatorship/guardianship was put in place after Britney’s very public struggle with mental health issues, with James Spears acting as conservator with control over the singer’s estate and, for the last two years, Jodi Montgomery acting as conservator over the singer’s medical and personal choices. Britney Spears is represented has been represented by a court-appointed attorney for the last 13 years.
In early 2020, The New York Times released a documentary entitled “Framing Britney Spears.” The documentary explores the origins of Britney’s conservatorship and highlights criticisms raised by the online #FreeBritney movement. Following the documentary, Britney’s conservatorship made headlines for the remainder of the year. In the summer of 2021, Britney made a statement to the court alleging, among other things, forced performances, rapid and unnecessary medication changes, and unwanted birth control. She further expressed concerns that she has been paying for every aspect of the conservatorship for the last 13 years. James Spears has called for an investigation into the claims and Jodi Montgomery has denied the allegations.
While this conservatorship is controlled by the laws of the State of California, many people have asked me what is going on with Britney. Particularly, casual, non-legal conversations have revolved around control of Britney’s money and how/when this conservatorship can end. I am not licensed to practice law in California and will not comment on the specifics of that legislative scheme. However, this is a good opportunity to learn about the Mississippi Guardianship and Conservatorship Act.
The Mississippi Guardianship and Conservatorship Act, also known as the “Guard and Protect” (GAP) Act, was signed into law in 2019 by Governor Phil Bryant. Representing the research and study of a two-year long special commission on the subject, the GAP Act is the first legislation in this area in 30 years. Effective January 2020, the GAP Act provides for a conservator over the estate and/or a guardianship over the person. Said conservatorship or guardianship is put in place after the appropriate notice requirements, medical evaluations, and hearing is complete. Conservatorships are for minors and vulnerable adults who are unable to make decisions regarding property (including finances) and guardianships are for minors and vulnerable adults who are unable to care for themselves.
Under the GAP Act, fees associated with managing/executing the court-approved plan may be reimbursed to the conservator and guardian upon approval. Guardians may spend money on clothing, food, medication, doctor’s visits, or other needs associated with the medical or personal well-being of the ward. A conservator may spend money on property appraisals, banking fees, professional services, or other needs associated with the financial health of the estate. Conservators and guardians submit to an annual accounting to ensure that spending and asset disposition conform to the court-approved plan and done in the best interest of the ward.
Termination may occur upon any of several different events. Some guardianships/conservatorships, especially those for minors, terminate upon a certain date or when the minor achieves the age of majority. If the ward is no longer suffering from the condition which precipitated the conservatorship/guardianship, the court can terminate it. Of course, this legal arrangement ends upon the death of a ward. Before termination, the guardian or conservator submits to a final accounting to ensure the proper management of the estate/ward. A ward may petition for termination. If the conservator/guardian oppose said termination, they may only have their fees reimbursed if their opposition is reasonable.
Conservatorships and guardianships exist to protect the well-being of our children and vulnerable adults. Through the GAP Act, Mississippi courts are able to tailor conservatorship or guardianship plans to the individual ward’s needs, regularly review the conservator/guardian’s conformity to said plan, and ensure the ward’s best interest is being served. Because every conservatorship or guardianship is different, it is best to contact an attorney for a consultation. Baucum Law Firm, PLLC is available for consultations and representation in these kinds of matters. Visit our Contact Us page today to get started
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