For over a decade #FreeBritney has permeated our social media outlets, televisions, and airwaves. This movement calling for the freedom of Britney Spears resulted from the unexpected news that she was placed under a conservatorship with her formerly estranged father at the helm.
The #FreeBritney movement started as an attempt to spread awareness of the entertainer=s situation. Many flocked to the internet, got on Google, and researched: “What is a conservatorship?” “How does it work?”
The public questioned how could someone take rights away from Britney Spears and who could do that? What rights could be taken away? How long could something like that last? Britney Spears is now more than a decade into her conservatorship with no end in sight.
Many people are unaware that their rights can be taken away. Others are unaware that they can seek to protect family members or friends by taking over their decision-making abilities. Conservatorships and Guardianships can be used for bad but can also be used for good. Either way, it is important for you to know about these legal actions, what their implications are, and how to utilize them or fight them.
In Georgia, an interested party can file for an adult conservatorship over another individual seeking to take away their rights to make decisions about their financial and legal matters. O.C.G.A. ‘ 29-5-1 et. seq. This is different than an adult guardianship! In some states the terms guardianship and conservatorship are interchangeable. However, in Georgia, these are two different actions that have two distinct outcomes under the law.
While a conservatorship takes away a person=s rights to make decisions regarding their financial and legal affairs. A guardianship takes away a person=s right to make decisions about their person, whether that be where you live or what medical procedures or healthcare you receive, etc. O.C.G.A. ‘ 29-4-1 et. seq.
If you are seeking to file for an adult guardianship or conservatorship, you file an action in the Probate Court of the County in which the individual you claim is incapacitated and unable to make significant responsible decisions is domiciled or found. Once filed, the Court generally will order an evaluation be done of the proposed ward. If the evaluation bears out that the proposed ward needs a guardian or conservator, the Court will hold a hearing at which evidence is presented proving (or failing to prove) that the individual requires a guardian and/or conservator. If the Court is satisfied with the evidence and it is found that a guardian and/or conservator is needed for the proposed ward, one is appointed. The proposed ward is now the ward and can no longer make decision about their person, finances, property, or legal affairs.
This process can be helpful under the right circumstances, when someone truly needs help. It can also be harmful if used nefariously. Either way, it is important that you seek legal advice to understand the implications and process surrounding guardianships and conservatorships as they can destroy a life just as easily as they could save a life.