Conservatorship in the limelight.
Recent hearings highlighting the establishment and ongoing conservatorship for Britney Spears have thrust into the limelight this legal process which is most often kept more private. By way of background, in 2008, James “Jamie” Spears was granted a conservatorship over his daughter, Britney. Under this conservatorship, a Los Angeles court gave power to Jamie and a co-conservator over Britney’s health and financial decisions. Since the appointment, the case has been in and out of the public eye as Britney has fought to have her father removed as her conservator.
Conservatorship in Nebraska.
If the conservatorship over Britney’s estate were set up in Nebraska, the petition requesting appointment of a conservator would have to assert and the Petitioner would have to prove that “by clear and convincing evidence … (i) the person is unable to manage his or her property and property affairs effectively for reasons such as mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability, chronic use of drugs, chronic intoxication, confinement, or lack of discretion in managing benefits received from public funds, detention by a foreign power, or disappearance; and (ii) the person has property which will be wasted or dissipated unless proper management is provided, or that funds are needed for the support, care, and welfare of the person or those entitled to be supported by him or her and that protection is necessary or desirable to obtain or provide funds.”
Conservatorship vs. Guardianship
Unlike the conservatorship filing in Britney’s case, which deals both with her financial estate as well as her personal wellbeing, conservatorships in Nebraska deal with assets. In Nebraska, if decision-making is required over the “person”, such as medical decisions, a guardianship would be established. A guardianship and conservatorship can be filed together as one case.
In order to establish a conservatorship in Nebraska, a petition is filed in county court in the county where the protected person resides. The person to be protected, along with their spouse, parents and adult children are entitled to notice of the proceedings. If a conservatorship is established, the conservator shall file annual reports to the court during the pendency of the conservatorship. Once appointed, a conservator holds title as trustee to all property of the protected person, held now or in the future. The powers generally of a conservator in Nebraska are enumerated in Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2653 and § 30-2654.
What if someone objects to a conservatorship?
Any person objecting to a conservatorship has certain rights under the Nebraska statutory framework, including the right to request the appointment of an attorney, the right to present evidence, the right to compel attendance of witnesses, the right to cross-examine witnesses, the right to appeal any final order and the right to request that their hearing be closed to the public.
In Nebraska, a conservator can be removed for good cause, upon notice and hearing. To terminate a conservatorship proceeding in Nebraska, a protected person can request a termination and is entitled to the same rights and procedures as if the case was just starting, including a hearing. If the court agrees with termination, at the time of termination, title to assets of the protected person is transferred back.
Stay tuned to see if a decision is made to #freebritney.
Termination, at the time of this article’s release, is not yet in the cards for Britney. On June 30, 2021, a Superior Court judge signed an order denying Britney Spears’ request to have her father removed from the financial aspects of her conservatorship. The judge’s decision came after the singer appeared in court to make a direct appeal. In an emotional statement, Spears said that she was being exploited and “bullied” by the conservatorship — and specifically, by her father. Certain facts in this case have been sealed so we may never know the facts guiding the judge’s decision. More recently, a judge granted Britney her request to hire her own attorney in the ongoing conservatorship battle so stay tuned to this climactic case.
The importance of understanding conservatorships.
Whether the protected person is a famous singer worth millions, the neighbor across the street or the grandma you have known since birth, the results of a conservatorship are far-reaching. The constitutionally protected autonomy of a person is restricted in the name of security. Talking to an attorney about the need for a conservatorship, whether you are the petitioner or potential protected person, is an essential step before filing with the court.
This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts.
If you are seeking guidance in conservatorships or guardianships, contact Hightower Reff Law today.