A look at conservatories in the wake of the Britney Spears affair | Favor Swift Collins & Smith

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Guardianship of 13-year-old Britney Spears is making headlines again after a judge rejected a 2020 request to dismiss Ms Spears’ father as her financial curator. Ms Spears gave moving testimony at the hearing and said she may soon be asking the court to end the guardianship. The resurgence of the #FreeBritney movement is a good opportunity to discuss the legality of guardianship and how lawyers can help.

What is a guardianship?

A guardianship is a legal relationship that arises when the probate court appoints a person (custodian) to take charge of the personal financial decisions of an incapacitated person (the ward). Often, as in Ms. Spears’ case, guardianship is indefinite for reasons of mental health or chronic health. The court may appoint a curator if the ward is unable to manage its own property, or if the ward has property that will be wasted or will not be used to support itself if protection is not granted.

What are the missions of a curator?

When a court appoints a curator, the ward no longer has authority over their financial affairs. The curator has the power to manage the financial and personal property of the incapacitated person in a way that supports or benefits the person. A curator has a duty of loyalty to the individual and is considered a ward trustee. As a trustee, the custodian cannot personally benefit from the person’s property. After his appointment, a curator is required to prepare and submit to the court a first inventory of the property subject to supervision. A conservator must also file an annual accounting statement to show the receipts and disbursements of the estate.

How does a guardianship end?

The incapacitated person or any person concerned with the welfare of the ward can ask the court to end the guardianship or to remove and replace the curator. A court can then terminate the guardianship entirely or remove the registrar for cause. In the case of a guardianship of a minor, termination automatically occurs as soon as the minor reaches the age of majority. In the case of a guardianship of an incapable adult, the guardianship may end when the individual regains his capacities or dies.

How can a lawyer help you?

A good first step in determining if a guardianship is appropriate is to speak with a lawyer. If someone you know is struggling with managing their money, paying their bills, making financial decisions for themselves, or suffering from dementia or other chronic health issues, they may benefit from a named curator. by the court. In some circumstances, a lawyer may draft estate planning documents that may allow a third party to help manage a person’s financial affairs without appointing a custodian. However, this does not prevent the service from accessing their finances or being exploited by crooks or criminals. An experienced lawyer can then help you explore different types of guardianship or alternatives that would work best for the individual. For example, limited guardianship that allows the individual to retain the right to make certain decisions and manage certain assets may be a good solution instead of full guardianship.


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