If you have not heard about the legal battle that Britney Spears has endured over the last nearly 13 years, you are in for a whirlwind of information. In 2008, shortly after what many call a “breakdown,” Britney has been the subject of a court-approved conservatorship (which is known as a guardianship in Texas). Jamie Spears, Britney’s father, was appointed as her conservator, which gave him the authority over her everyday life, finances, and career. Conservatorships (guardianships in Texas) can either be temporary or permanent. If an individual is incapacitated for a short time, then a court will likely grant a temporary conservatorship, but in Britney’s case, the court approved a permanent conservatorship.
How can this apply to you?
It does not matter whether you are a celebrity worth millions of dollars, or if you are an everyday lay person who provides for their family – nobody knows what the future holds. If Britney had the proper estate planning documents in place before her “breakdown,” she could have appointed her own conservator to manage her finances and other aspects of her life upon her incapacity. It is widely known that Britney has voiced her disapproval of her father being her conservator and that she has asked the probate court to appoint a corporate conservator (Bessemer Trust). Without the proper documents in place, this court proceeding will cost thousands of dollars and take many months to complete.
What documents would have avoided this?
There are many documents that would have been beneficial to Britney if she had them established before the infamous 2007 Britney breakdown, but two of the most common would have been a statutory durable power of attorney and a medical power of attorney.
How a statutory durable power of attorney would have helped:
A statutory durable power of attorney would have helped Britney appoint an agent to act on her behalf upon incapacity to manage her finances. In this case, someone other than her father could have been appointed to make the decisions for her that she does not want her father to be making. This single document could have helped avoid Britney’s conservatorship altogether and will also help avoid guardianship proceedings here in Texas.
How a medical power of attorney would have helped:
Did you know that medical records of an individual are not accessible without a HIPAA authorization? Once someone turns 18, there is a certain order of who may make medical decisions on their behalf or gain access to their medical records. Britney’s mother, Lynne, eventually stepped in because she was concerned for her daughter’s well-being but had to ask the court to be included on her medical treatment since Britney did not have a medical power of attorney and Lynne was not the court-appointed conservator. Establishing a medical power of attorney will ensure that a person you trust will be able to oversee decisions that will be made regarding your medical treatment instead of a court.
What to do:
Nobody wants to go through the same things Britney Spears has in the last nearly 13 years, but believe it or not, it happens every day. So many people have to petition the probate court to become their loved one’s guardian to ensure they are properly taken care of – although some guardians don’t always have your best interest at heart. That is why it is crucial to establish an estate plan with documents that will allow you to appoint someone you trust to make decisions for you upon your incapacity, rather than having a judge do it later.
Hegwood Law Group specializes in helping you establish an estate plan that is tailored to your needs and will avoid guardianship and probate. Click here or call (281) 885-8826 to schedule a strategy session to discuss how Hegwood Law Group can assist you and your loved ones today.