Guardianships have been in the news lately, with singer Britney Spears’ telling a California court “I want my life back!” Since facing a public mental health crisis in 2008, Spears’ career has been in the hands of her father, who was given conservatorship (a form of legal guardianship) over her estate and other aspects of her life. Beginning in 2009, a professional appointed by the court has been in charge of Spears’ personal affairs, while her father continued as financial guardian.
Britney Spears is a very unusual case in that she is young, working, (“I can work for myself and pay other people,” as she proclaimed in court). Guardianships are designed to extend to those areas of a person’s functioning that they cannot manage on their own, yet in her case, Spears’ attorney argued, the conservatorship covered all aspects of her personal affairs and property management.
Just last month, CNN reports, a Los Angeles County judge granted Britney Spears the right to hire her own attorney to advocate on her behalf in her fight to end the conservatorship….
A guardianship is a legal action that allows a competent adult to make decisions on behalf of an incapacitated adult or minor child. Guardianship over the estate addresses the property and financial affairs of the protected person. “Unless limited by the court, a guardian’s authority may include, but is not limited to: the power to enter into contracts, the power to consent to medical care, the decision of where to live, how to manage finances, and whether to marry,” the IN.gov website explains.
Guardianships are typically created for:
- people with severe cognitive impairment
- people with developmental disabilities
- older adults with severe dementia
A family member may be named as guardian but an “institutional guardian” such as a banker, attorney, or wealth management professional can be appointed. A court or an impartial investigator acting on behalf of the Court reviews the situation periodically, typically on an annual or bi-annual basis depending on the type of guardianship and state law.
At Geyer Law, we work with individuals and families when guardianship is in place or may be needed. We can assist your family in preserving the rights of the alleged incapacitated person while also providing that individual with the help he or she may need.
– by Ronnie of the Rebecca W Geyer & Associates blog team