Following her 2007 meltdown, pop star Britney Spears was put under a conservatorship, headed by her father, Jamie Spears, and lawyer Andrew Wallet. This has remained in place for a decade, but recent headlines indicate her family may revoke the conservatorship. But what exactly is a conservatorship and why does Britney Spears have one?

Conservatorships are designed to protect individuals considered incapacitated or unqualified to manage their own financial affairs. Once someone is considered unqualified, a conservator is chosen by a court or a will to take control of the individual’s finances. This power includes making investments, managing businesses and real estate, paying bills, and overseeing any transactions associated with everyday life. For someone as famous as Spears, transactions associated with everyday life involve bigger dollar signs and larger responsibilities. Her conservatorship is, essentially, managing her career.

Spears is also under a conservatorship to look after her personal and mental well-being, which in Arizona is called a guardianship. This role oversees decisions related to the individual’s personal welfare, like medical care, family matters, or education. In Arizona, conservatorships only provide financial control, while guardianships provide broader powers. You can have one, the other, or both in place, with different people serving as guardian and conservator.

Many guardianships and conservatorships are set up with estate plans, to ensure family members appoint the proper people to look after dependent loved ones after their death. However, families can request a guardianship or conservatorship under other circumstances, such as an individual’s sudden deterioration in mental or physical health.

While the details of guardianships and conservatorships vary from state to state, protections are built into these powers to prevent abuse. In Arizona, conservators must keep proper financial records to prove they only use funds for the protected individual. Guardianships require an attorney represent the individual, and regular reports are necessary to verify the appointed guardian is operating in the individual’s best interest.

The differences between a guardianship and conservatorship can be confusing.  In order to understand what is right for your situation, consult the estate planning attorneys at Perez Law Group, PLLC.  Contact us today to learn about your options.