Excited for the summer months? We are too! I love having Gianni off from school. He gets to attend camps, we travel to New York, and we aren't worrying too much about schedules. The best part? No alarm clock. The worst part? Constant rain!
This summer did something unexpected for my profession. It placed my area of law in the limelight with the publicly-leaked revelations made by Britney Spears about the details of her conservatorship. Even being in the "biz," I found the details of her account horrifying. What did you think?
It is very likely that she did need a conservatorship at one point. Just before the appointment of her Dad as her financial caretaker, newspapers were actually preparing her obituary, just in case. She was on the verge of losing her estate by spending too much and trusting the wrong people.
But, 13 years later, Britney has released albums, her kids have grown, she has toured, hosted a TV show and more. When do the intense financial restrictions end? And, when does this woman (who is now 39 years old) get her freedom back?
We need to consider that it is a tough burden to impose a conservatorship on another. Our country recognizes our rights to make decisions for ourselves. We are not privy to the facts that made this conservatorship necessary. Once you do have another appointed on your behalf, it is easy for the conservatorship itself to take on a life of its own. It spirals out of control without reassessing the continuing needs for such restrictions.
What happens next will be very telling. For starters, Britney had a huge victory with the Court allowing her to hire her own attorney (this should not be that big of a deal, however). The public eye is focused on the court system and its flaws. Britney may petition to end the conservatorship--do you think she will?
Have you ever thought about such a tragedy happening to you or someone you love? Lately, we have had a lot of exposure to guardianships and conservatorships gone wrong. Before Britney's shocking statement, Hulu released a documentary of the frantic life of Ms. Spears, made worse by the paparazzi and her supposedly overzealous parents. Netflix got into the mix as well with its documentary "I Care." This scary tale shows how crooked characters worked together to strip elderly folks from their lives and their homes (read my blog on that here).
If you are concerned for yourself and want to establish and continue your freedoms as best as you can, you could establish a Revocable Trust so that a guardianship will not be necessary. One other "must-do" is creating strong healthcare and financial directives naming people you trust to help care for you. If you do not have people like that in your life, there are professional fiduciaries that will serve a health care proxies, trustees and more (reach out to me for some names). The most important thing is to get documents in place while you are healthy enough to make your own decisions. In that way, you decide your future for yourself.
If you have some time this summer to think about these things, why not connect?