Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Britney Spears asks judge to deny mom's request for over $660K in legal fees

SpearsBritney Spears has asked a judge to deny her mother's request for the singer to pay over $660,000 in legal fees.

Lynne Spears' filed a petition in November to request legal fees, in which she claimed that she hired a team "to assist Britney to break the restriction imposed by the conservatorship." 

Britney Spears' attorney Matthew Rosengart filed an objection to the petition for payment on April 5, arguing that "Lynne is a third party to the conservatorship and that there's no authority that says a third party can obtain funds from a conservatee's estate to pay for attorneys hired by that third party.

Rosengart also mentioned that Britney Spears has paid over $1 million over the last decade for Lynne to live in a "large, expensive house" and also argued that Britney pays for Lynne's "utilities, telephone services, insurance, property taxes, landscaping, pool work, pest control, repairs, and maintenance, totaling $1.7 million. . ." 

A ruling has not yet been made. 

See Melissa Roberto, Britney Spears asks judge to deny mom's request for over $660K in legal fees, Fox Business, April 8, 2022. 

April 17, 2022 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Amanda Bynes files to terminate conservatorship after nearly 9 years

AmandaAmerican actress Amanda Bynes has filed to end her conservatorship, confirmed by her attorney David A. Esquibias. 

The retired actress, known for her roles in Hairspray, She's the Man, and All That, filed to terminate the conservatorship of her person and her estate in a petition submitted at the Ventura County Superior Court. 

Bynes, 35, is currently working on a degree at California's Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and believes she no longer needs protection from the court, as she believes her condition has vastly improved. 

In 2013, Bynes had a series of troubles including multiple DUI  arrests, a drug related arrest, shoplifting allegations, and even set fire to a stranger's driveway. Bynes's mother, Lynn, currently oversees the conservatorship and has done so since 2013 when Bynes was hospitalized on an involuntary psychiatric hold. 

In 2020, the Nickelodeon star celebrated 18 months of sobriety, telling Paper Magazine, that substance abuse was the core of her problems. 

Although Bynes's conservatorship was extended to 2023, her attorney believes that the legal arrangement could "be terminated at any time for good cause." 

A hearing regarding the conservatorship is set for March 22. 

See Suzy Byrne, Amanda Bynes files to terminate conservatorship after nearly 9 years, Yahoo Entertainment, February 25, 2022. 

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Florida Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

March 1, 2022 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Article: Protective Orders & Limited Guardianships: Legal Tools for Sidelining Plenary Guardianship

Nina A. Kohn and David M. English recently published an article entitled, Protective Orders & Limited Guardianships: Legal Tools for Sidelining Plenary Guardianship, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law ejournal (2021). Provided below is the abstract to the Article: Estate planning

By encouraging use of limited guardianships and protective orders instead of full guardianships, states can reduce the likelihood of unnecessarily stripping adults of their civil rights. Yet, although such less restrictive alternatives have long been available to most courts, in practice, their use remains limited and sporadic. This article argues that this lack of use suggests that it is not sufficient for the law to state a preference for these less restrictive alternatives, it must actually create systems that incentivize their use and actively discourage the use of full guardianships. This article then shows, using the Uniform Guardianship, Conservatorship, and Other Protective Arrangements Act as a guide, how states can adopt statutes that create such systems.

February 27, 2022 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Hank Williams Jr.'s son claims he's trapped in a conservatorship and 'wants out'

HAnkHank Williams Jr.'s youngest son, Sam Williams, has claimed that he is trapped in a conservatorship that he wants out of. Sam Williams posted a video this week, in which he alleged that his dad and half-sister placed him in the conservatorship. 

In a silent video posted on YouTube, Sam could be seen holding a white piece of paper with the words "I WANT OUT." However, the video is no longer viewable, as it has been made private. 

Williams claimed that his father Hank Williams Jr. and half-sister Holly Williams placed him in a conservatorship in August 2020, "55 days after his sister Katie Williams Dunning died in a car accident. 

On February 2, Sam shared the video to his twitter account writing "Please watch..conservatorship." Sam went on to write: 

I've been quiet a long time now. I want out of this, and I don't mind people knowing. They took my grief process, my spirit, my money, my car, my home, and everything possible in order to 'protect me.' Well, I need protection from them. . .I have worked my broken heart to quits since my dear Katie left for Home. I do not deserve this. This is a scary step but I don't see what else to do here. I am ashamed for my family and embarrassed. I am beyond done. I have my spirit back. Get. Me. Out. Please. 

See Melissa Roberto, Hank Williams Jr.'s son claims he's trapped in a conservatorship and 'wants out', Fox News, February 6, 2022. 

February 8, 2022 in Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Asymmetrical Conservatorship Litigation

BalanceTypical litigation involves a symmetrical relationship in which each party pays its own attorney fees and the parties equally face the possibility of "financial exhaustion." However, in conservatorship litigation, the conservatee often must pay the attorney fees of all of the parties involved in the litigation. 

This asymmetric relationship that occurs in conservatorship litigation can "subject the conservatee to collectively imposed financial ruin." According to John H. Sugiyama, "[c]onservatorship litigation thus cries out for early neutral evaluation followed by mediation." 

Due to the array of burdens imposed and sources of conflict, imposition of early mediation could prove to be effective. According to Sugiyama, "[t]he unpredictability of a totally satisfactory trial result and the certainty of a reduction in any future inheritance should make relatively early mediation appealing to the parties." 

In early mediation, parties could "act creatively to craft a comprehensive, confidential resolution of their conservatorship dispute" to reduce the asymmetric nature of trial-directed conservatorship litigation and create a better balance. 

See John J. Sugiyama, Asymmetrical Conservatorship Litigation , American Bar Association: Probate and Property Magazine, Nov./Dec. 2021. 

November 16, 2021 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

BRITNEY SPEARS Calls Out Mom ... YOU WERE THE BRAINS BEHIND THE CONSERVATORSHIP

SpearsFollowing Lynne Spears's (mother of Britney Spears) filing of a petition requesting payment for legal fees, Britney Spears has called her mother out, claiming that her mother was the brains behind the conservatorship that held her captive. 

According to Britney Spears, "[m]y dad is not smart enough to ever think of a conservatorship. . . .what people don't know is that my mom is the one who gave him the idea." 

According to TMZ, Britney's statements are true as Lynne was the one who "Actually engineered the temporary conservatorship after Britney's second 5150 involuntary psychiatric hold." 

Britney Spears also claimed that her former business manager, Lou Taylor, was pulling the strings stating, "[s]he secretly ruined my life, and yes, I will call [Lynne] and Lou Taylor out on it. So take your whole 'I have NO IDEA what's going on' attitude and go f**k yourself. You know exactly what you did." 

Although Britney deleted the post several hours later, it's apparent that her intent was to send a message. 

See BRITNEY SPEARS Calls Out Mom ... YOU WERE THE BRAINS BEHIND THE CONSERVATORSHIP, TMZ, November 3, 2021. 

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Florida Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

November 9, 2021 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 8, 2021

Lynne Spears is requesting that Britney's estate pay for more than $600,000 worth of legal fees linked to her efforts to end to the conservatorship

SpearsBritney Spears's mother, Lynne Spears, has filed a petition to the Los Angeles court "requesting that her daughter's conservatorship estate pay for her legal fees incurred since 2019." 

The documents explain that she sought out legal counsel from a firm called Jones Swanson Huddle & Garrison because she believed her daughter, Britney Spears, was enduring a "crisis" and wanted to "get involved to help Britney free herself from what she saw as a very controlling existence." 

The filing also states, "Above all, she and Britney wanted Jones Swanson to help Britney achieve independence from her conservator father James Spears ('Jamie')." The filing alleges that Britney "enthusiastically agreed" to have her mother join the conservatorship arrangement. 

The breakdown of the legal fees being requested by Lynne Spears is as follows:

Jones Swanson Huddell & Daschbach: 

$840,000, to which Jones Swansons is willing to apply a 40% discount to $504,000

Ginzburg & Bronshteyn, APC: $146,548

Total: $650,548

Although Lynne Spears never had a formal role in the legal guardianship for her daughter, the filing states that her legal team "began appearing in court hearings related to the conservatorship and conducted a review of the historic record of the case." 

The filing continues to state:

In taking on the representation of Lynne Spears, the mission of counsel was clear and simple: do whatever it took to assist Britney to break the restrictions imposed by the conservatorship and move in the direction of the removal of Jamie as conservator, and, ultimately, total termination of the entire conservatorship. 

Lynne Spears' lawyers claim that, since Britney was not permitted to seek her own representation until the summer of 2021, Lynne Spears, "entered this case with her own counsel in order to fill that gap."

See Kim Renfro, Lynne Spears is requesting that Britney's estate pay for more than $600,000 worth of legal fees linked to her efforts to end to the conservatorship, Yahoo News, November 3, 2021. 

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Florida Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

November 8, 2021 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Conservatorships by Learning More

The Learning More Podcast recently released a podcast episode discussing conservatorships in the light of the #FreeBritney Movement. University of Virginia Law Professor Naomi Can is featured on the podcast.

Below is more information on the podcast and where you can find and listen:

We have heard a lot in the news and social media about the Britney Spears conservatorship. What is a conservatorship? Why and when are they established? What should you put in place so that it is less likely to happen to you? In this episode, we learn more from Naomi Cahn, Professor of Law at the University of Virginia.
#freebritany 

Show Links

See Podchaser.com, last visited November 6, 2021. 

November 6, 2021 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 7, 2021

What’s next in Britney Spears’ conservatorship after her father is suspended? Legal experts weigh in

SpearsWhat's next for Britney Spears? Well, legal experts say that Spears could still be asked for a mental evaluation to fully determine if termination of her conservatorship is granted.

Last Wednesday, a judge ruled to suspend Jamie P. Spears from overseeing the conservatorship that has "held a firm grip on [Britney's] life for over a dozen years." 

Britney Spears's attorney, Mathew Rosengart—in a not so shy way—told the court that Jamie should have been removed as conservator of Britney's estate long ago. Rosengart stated that Spears "wants, needs, and deserves an orderly transition" and argued that Spears "has been abused by this man for the last decade and since her childhood." 

According to David Glass, a certified family law attorney with a Ph.D in clinical psychology, told Fox News that the next step is for the judge presiding over the case to rule on whether the entire conservatorship will end completely. 

Glass stated, "[t]he heat had been turned up and the court felt compelled to suspend Jamie since its hands were tied. . .All of the documentary info, all of the claims by Britney herself, added up to it not being in Britney's interest to have her father involved—without any finding that Jamie did anything wrong." 

Glass also asserted that the court should still ask for a mental health evaluation, when the next hearing comes up around November 12. 

See Julius Young, What’s next in Britney Spears’ conservatorship after her father is suspended? Legal experts weigh in, Fox News, September 29, 2021. 

October 7, 2021 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Britney Spears Is Released From Her Father’s Oversight

SpearsJudge Brenda Penny has granted the request of Britney Spears' attorney, Mathew S. Rosengart, to remove Jamie Spears as conservator. The Judge's decision marks the first time since 2008 that Britney Spears will be without her father's oversight. 

According to Rosengart, Britney had been pleading for Jamie Spears' removal and stated, "[t]his man does not belong in her life, your honor, for another day. . .Please hear the plea of my client." 

After hearing both sides, Judge Penny agreed that suspending Jamie Spears was in the best interest of Britney Spears. Judge Penny stated, "[t]he current situation is not tenable." 

The decision by Judge Penny brought a significant ending to what has been a chaotic summer—in which Britney Spears broke her public silence at a hearing in June to plead her case and speak her truth. 

Although an attorney for Jamie Spears, Vivian Lee Thoreen, argued to end the conservatorship right away instead of suspend Mr. Spears, Rosengart asked the Judge to wait so that he could further investigate Mr. Spears's conduct. 

Rosengart asked for a termination hearing to be set for 30 to 45 days so that Ms. Spears could have an orderly transition. The next hearing is set for November 12. 

See Joe Coscarelli, Julia Jacobs, & Liz Day, Britney Spears Is Released From Her Father’s Oversight, The New York Times, September 29, 2021. 

September 30, 2021 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)