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  • A Florida Estate Planning Attorney’s Take on ‘Framing Britney Spears’

    The public has become fascinated with the details revealed in “Framing Britney Spears”, a documentary by The New York Times. We have been getting questions from concerned fans regarding conservatorships (known as guardianships in Florida) and estate planning, the unique aspects of this case.

    A quick synopsis: Pop music icon, Britney Spears was placed under conservatorship in California (which is typically reserved for the elderly) 12 years ago. Her father, Jamie Spears petitioned the court with what appeared to be good intentions after Britney’s alleged mental health issues were documented by paparazzi. Under Florida law, a “conservatorship” is called a “guardianship”; a “conservatee” is a “ward”; and a “conservator” is a “guardian”.

    Our attorney, Melissa Finley Williams, recently did a deep dive into the documentary and put together this video to address some of the most pressing issues regarding the case and Britney’s future:

    The biggest issues identified are:

    1. Britney was unable to hire a private attorney.
    2. Britney’s father, Jamie Spears, was appointed conservator of person and estate despite her objection.
    3. Britney went back to work, performing concerts and securing a lucrative residency in Las Vegas, which begs the question: Does she have capacity?
    4. Jamie was awarded 1.5% of the revenue from Britney’s Las Vegas residency, and the Co-conservator of the Estate, Attorney Andrew Wallet, also asked for raise. Are these fees standard for guardians?
    5. Britney is paying lawyer’s fees for all parties, which some fans believe could create a conflict of interest.
    6. Britney was allegedly forced into a mental health treatment facility. In Florida, Guardians do not have legal standing (authority) to force anyone into mental health treatment without prior court approval.
    7. When and how will Britney receive restoration of capacity? It does not appear that Britney has initiated the process to ask the court to reassess her capacity at this time.

    Based off of what we saw in the documentary, we share in the public’s concern over Britney’s well-being and the handling of her estate. We hope she is able to work within the courts to expand her rights, and regain control of her health, finances, and career to the best of her ability.