How would Britney’s conservatorship be different in the UK?
Britney Spears spoke out recently about her conservatorship that has controlled her life for 13 years. She described it as ‘abusive’ and said she ‘just wants her life back.’ However, the judge denied her application to have her father removed as her conservator.
Conservatorship in the US is put in place when someone no longer has capacity to make decisions and they have not made a power of attorney. This is similar to a deputyship which applies to England and Wales. Whilst Britney’s case is extreme, if you have not made a power of attorney and you lose capacity then someone else can be appointed as your deputy and will manage your affairs and make decisions on your behalf.
The application can be costly and time-consuming.
In her testimony, Spears said she had been forced to work against her will and to use birth control pills despite her desire to have another child. She said she should not be in a conservatorship if she can work.
In England and Wales a deputy cannot make a decision for the person if they can make the decision themselves. Apparently Ms Spears’ co-conservator, the Bessemer Trust, said that they didn’t know the conservatorship was involuntary and they relied on the representations of the parties. In England and Wales, the deputy is heavily monitored by the court. They need to report to the court at least once a year and have in-depth knowledge of the individual’s circumstances.
The reports on Ms Spears’ case are worrying and extreme. Whilst we have not seen anything like this here, the fact of the matter is that if you do not make a power of attorney and lose capacity then the court will decide who will manage your affairs.
It will be interesting to watch the Spears case develop. Further reports may be requested to see if Britney has regained capacity. Here, if someone regains capacity then the deputyship order ends.