Spears made a passionate appeal Wednesday before a Los Angeles Superior Court judge. She claimed that she is being exploited, cannot sleep and is crying every day.
She said, "All I want to do is own my money for it to end."
Spears' conservatorship was established in 2008 due to mental health issues at the time. It was established by Jamie Spears as a probate conservatorship, in which her father had full control of her estate and person.
Her estimated $60 million fortune will be managed by her father. He has the legal power to negotiate financial deals and business opportunities. Jodi Montgomery has been acting as temporary conservator for Spears' personal affairs since 2019.
We spoke to Leslie Salzman to learn more about conservatorships, and how they are used. He is a clinical professor of Law at the Cardozo School of Law, and an expert in elder law, disability law, and conservatorships.
What is a conservatorship?
A conservatorship (also known as a guardianship) is a legal arrangement that is established for those who are unable or unable to manage their affairs.
Salzman tells NPR that the inability is causing them harm. He also says that they are unable to comprehend and appreciate the consequences of their inability manage their affairs.
California, where Spears' case was, defines conservatorship as: "A court case in which a judge appoints someone or an organization (called "conservator") to take care of another adult (called "conservatee") who is unable to care for themselves or manage their finances.
A conservator is granted conservatorship by a judge. The conservator has the power to assume the authority authorized by the order.
According to the Handbook for Conservators of the Judicial Council of California, "When someone becomes a conservatee they do not lose the right of taking part in important decisions that affect their property and life." All conservatees are entitled to respect, understanding, and consideration and their wishes to be considered. You have the right to provide for them with all of their basic human rights.
"Conservatorship" means that the court takes away civil liberties from one individual and gives them to another," Zoe BrennanKrohn, a staff lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Disability Rights Project stated in a blog article last. "But it's the court interfering in the person's lives and saying that you, as someone with a disability are no longer able make decisions about your livelihood and where you live. We are also putting someone else in charge.
Brennan-Krohn stated that this is a drastic step and should only be taken in extreme cases. Only a court can remove a conservatorship that has been placed on a person by a court.
Spears' conservatorship of rare flowers is extraordinary
People with severe cognitive impairments often use conservatorships. These people often are older than those with severe dementia. People with severe developmental disabilities may also be appointed to guardianships.
Spears, 39 years old, isn't the typical conservator. She has been a pop star since her teens and has spent the last 13 years releasing albums, judging The X Factor, and earning an estimated $138million performing in Las Vegas.
Spears stated to the court that she shouldn't be under a conservatorship, stating that she can work and make money for herself and others. It makes no sense. It is time to change the laws.
Although not all facts are known, Spears's situation is not typical.
Salzman states, "Usually it's not someone who is young, working, or who is extremely successful in their field -- that would suggest a level of capability which wouldn't be considered legal incapacity."
It seems unusual to find someone who can go out and do all of her professional activities, but is completely incapable of managing her personal or financial affairs.