Will there be new probate laws 2021? Unbelievably, changes could come courtesy of none other than Britney Spears!
If you have been keeping up with the news lately, you have likely seen the headlines pertaining to Britney Spears and her fight to free herself from the custodianship of her father. There’s no doubt that the story has been popular and even without a resolution for Britney, the case has the potential to change probate law – let’s take a look at how.
New Probate Laws 2021 – Will Britney Spears Change Probate Law?
Let’s begin with a brief recap of the situation itself.
In 2008, California Courts appointed Britney Spears’ father in charge of her as a person and of her estate. The probate conservatorship resulted from a highly publicized mental health crisis that Britney suffered back in 2008.
The probate conservatorship put Britney’s father in charge of $60 million and gave him the legal power to negotiate business opportunities and other financial arrangements for her. In 2019, court appointed Jodi Montgomery took control of Britney’s personal affairs as a temporary conservatorship. This gave Jodi control over Britney’s medical treatment and daily care.
Establishing a conservatorship for Britney alone was an unusual situation – this is something generally reserved for elderly individuals suffering from dementia, or those who have significant developmental difficulties. This isn’t the only peculiarity about Britney’s conservatorship, either. In traditional conservatorships, the individual under conservatorship (the conservatee) does not lose the ability to weigh in on their life choices and what is done with their property, they are not completely “cut out of the loop” as it were. Add to this the fact that many believed that the conservatorship would only be temporary, and you have a completely sorry state of affairs.
Britney’s conservatorship was extreme from the start, though, and from her own testament, she has been little more than a prisoner who has been dictated to, forced to practive for grueling hours, and drugged when she disobeyed over the past thirteen years. Oddly, during this time, while her conservator (and father) found Britney unable to make her own decisions in regard to her finances or her daily life, he did find her fit to continue her vocal training, perform on stage, and make more money which he seemed only happy to add to the small fortune he is sitting on.
In November, Britney made an official request with the court for her father to be removed as her conservator. During this time, she also penned a letter describing her situation and gave it to her photographer, Gallery. The contents of this letter have since become public. In the letter, Britney details the complete control that her father and the conservatorship have over her.
While decisions loomed, Britney completely refused to stop performing in February, 2021. It was only at this time that a co-conservatorship was established. This change put wealth management company, Bessemer Trust, as a second party in charge of Britney’s financial affairs.
In June of this year, Britney pleaded with the court to put an end to her father’s role in her conservatorship. She also made her argument that if she was capable of making a good living for herself, employing and providing for so many other people, performing in front of jam-packed audiences, and practicing faithfully…couldn’t she be deemed fit to handle her own life and estate by now? She said that she felt “exploited and bullied” by the conservatorship…and who can blame her?
On June 30th, 2021, Judge Brenda Penny denied Britney’s appeal to put an end to her father’s role as conservator and end his control of her life.
Something beneficial did come from Britney’s court experience, though, she learned that she had the right to request the termination of her conservatorship all together.
The next hearing for this case is to be held on July 14th and this time Britney is expected to file for complete termination of her conservatorship – something she was unaware she could do until recently. With Britney’s next court date on the horizon, experts suggest that she will be filing for a complete termination of her conservatorship. Since the recent ruling by Judge Brenda Penny, however, we have to wonder if Britney will ever be given control of her life again. But meanwhile, her message is sparking the potential for change in probate law.
How can it be that someone who is able to work seven days a week, practice grueling hours, perform in front of a huge audience, and provide employment for so many people can have such little control over their life? It shouldn’t be this way and that the time for change is now. No one should have so little control of their personal affairs that they are living the life of a prisoner while being forced to work to pay for the lifestyle of their captors.
How could something like this situation happen in the first place? By taking advantage of a legal establishment that was intended for an entirely different set of circumstances. And the fact that the situation continues regardless of the fact that the conservatee is plainly able to control her own state of affairs…it’s mind boggling. Yet, through this “loophole” we have somehow legitimized a form of modern day slavery, something that flies in the face of everything this country (and it’s legal system) should be fighting for.
Legal professionals and petitioners for human rights alike have been speaking out in favor of change, but just what should that change be? How can we stop situations like Britney Spears’ from happening while still providing for those who are genuinely unable to care for their own affairs?