In the UK, if somebody (P) lacks mental capacity to make decisions for themselves in relation to their property and financial affairs, an application can be made to the Court of Protection for a property and affairs deputy to be appointed. A deputy will manage P’s property and finances and make decisions in their best interests.
In the US the court can appoint a conservator, under a court appointed conservatorship, for an adult who lacks mental capacity to manage their own financial affairs.
Well known pop singer Britney Spears has hit headlines on many occasions throughout her career and most recently this week in relation to her ongoing court case against her father’s appointment as her conservator. Britney was reported to have experienced a decline in her mental health in 2007/2008 the same year in which her father, James Spears, was appointed as her conservator. 12 years later and James remains conservator. Britney is now challenging his appointment in favour of appointing her long-term manager Jodi Montgomery as her conservator.
In the UK a property and affairs deputy can retire from their role as deputy. If P continues to lack capacity to manage their property and affairs a new deputy can be appointed. P can also be assessed by a medical practitioner as having mental capacity to manage their own property and affairs and in this situation the deputyship can be discharged.
Similarly, in the US a protected person can file a petition to terminate the conservatorship if they are now able to manage their own affairs.
News reports state that Britney is afraid of her father and will not perform again if he continues to manage the conservatorship, whilst James claims that he has supported the conservatorship well enabling Britney’s wealth to exceed $60m following a period of debt.
During the recent court case the LA Judge declined to suspend James from the conservatorship. The Judge approved the appointment of a co-conservator and corporate fiduciary, the Bessemer Trust, to act alongside James.
In the UK it is possible to appoint more than one property and affairs deputy. Deputies can be appointed jointly or joint and severally. Joint deputies will make decisions together and must jointly agree all decisions. Joint and several deputies can make decisions separately or together in P’s best interests.
The outcome of Britney’s recent court case is not the decision that she wanted and it is reported that her lawyer plans to file a further petition to suspend or remove James as conservator. The Judge in the recent case has commented that she will consider any further petitions.
The #FreeBritney fan movement continues to raise awareness of the situation and support Britney to be ‘freed’ from the conservatorship.
Court of Protection cases are usually conducted in private and it is uncommon that high profile cases such as Britney’s are reported.
Blog author: Carys Lewis, Paralegal – Neurolaw