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221 - Freeing Brittney from her Conservatorship

221 - Freeing Brittney from her Conservatorship Image

12/23/2021 12:44 pm

In this show, Leh and Todd


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Transcript

Leh Meriwether: Welcome, everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether and with me is Todd Orston. We are your co-host for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwether & Tharp. Here you'll learn about divorce, family law, and from time to time, even tips on how to save your marriage if it's in the middle of a crisis. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at atlantadivorceteam.com.

Well, Todd, I'm excited. We're going to cover a topic we have never covered before.

Todd Orston: Divorce in space. No? Zero gravity divorce? Nothing?

Leh Meriwether: A what?

Todd Orston: Zero gravity divorce? No?

Leh Meriwether: Zero gravity divorce?

Todd Orston: No? All right.

Leh Meriwether: Not yet.

Todd Orston: Not yet. All right.

Leh Meriwether: I think you're 50 years ahead of your job.

Todd Orston: I don't know. I was talking to Elon. Elon, whatever, Mr. Musky, Musco, and yeah, it's coming. It's coming.

Leh Meriwether: It's coming.

Todd Orston: All right.

Leh Meriwether: Well, just you know in 50 years when they have courtrooms out in space, they will reflect back on, "Leh Meriwether predicted that under Divorce Team Radio."

Todd Orston: Wait a minute. What do you mean Leh? I'm the one that brought it up?

Leh Meriwether: Well, I said when it was going to happen.

Todd Orston: Oh, okay. All right. That's fine. You get the credit?

Leh Meriwether: No. Well, you predicted that we will have them in space. I just predicted the date.

Todd Orston: Well, you know what I predict?

Leh Meriwether: What?

Todd Orston: Zoom. I'll be doing some video conferencing because at that point, I don't think I'm traveling to outer space to handle a divorce.

Leh Meriwether: No, but by then they're going to have a pill that you can take and they'll be nanobots and they'll keep you young.

Todd Orston: Yeah. All right. So now let's get to what the show is already actually about.

Leh Meriwether: It's actually about nanobots.

Todd Orston: Ah, got it.

Leh Meriwether: How they're going to revolutionize medical procedures. No, just kidding. Now-

Todd Orston: So what is today's show about?

Leh Meriwether: I thought you were the one who's telling me what we're talking about.

Todd Orston: Okay. Well, then I will tell everyone. We're going to talk today about conservatorships. Yeah, that wasn't real music. Conservatorships and why is that an issue right now. They've been around for a long time and we'll explain. We're going to go into what a conservatorship is. We're going to talk about it in the context of a very famous conservatorship, Brittany Spears, and for 13 plus years, there has been a conservatorship in place that managed her finances and business dealings and what have you, and it has just been terminated and free Brittany and all these other movements that were against it for so long. They had their day and Britney is now free, but we're going to go into it.

Jokes aside. We're going to go into it because it is an important tool. It's not one that's talked about very often. So again, in the context of the Britney Spear's conservatorship, we're going to try and explain what that is, what it means for people if it's put into place it and, again, if you know someone where it might be appropriate, just giving some information so you understand what it's all about.

Leh Meriwether: Yeah. In conjunction with conservatorships, you have guardianships, and those are becoming more and more a tool that's becoming used more and more for two reasons. One, you have parents that are aging out or not aging out, they're getting to an age where they're having trouble taking care of their finances or even themselves. So a conservator supervises an individual's financial affairs while a guardian protects the personal interests of another person, who's incapable of caring for their own interests.

So sometimes you have a guardian who's also appointed as a conservator. Sometimes they may be separate people. Obviously, it's cheaper to have one person act in both roles. Of course, it puts more work on that one person, but you also see another thing that I'm aware of because of a rise in children that have autism and certain special needs is you're going to see this when it comes to children as they turn 18 and become adults, but really don't have the ability to care for themselves or maybe in a few years they can, but when they age out, because of their, I'm trying to think of the right word, it takes them a while longer.

There's a developmental delay for whatever reason, whether it's autism or some other special need. There's a developmental delay. So at 18, they're still not ready to be out on their own. Maybe by 30 they are, so as a result, parents have to do guardianships and conservatorships so they can care for the affairs of their special needs children until, well, and I have friends that'll probably always be that way. One of my neighbors, it's going to be always be that way for their children. In other cases, as the children get older, they may eventually reach a point where they can care for themselves.

Todd Orston: Right. It's not necessarily a permanent thing. It can be terminated like in the Britney Spear's situation, but let's start with defining conservatorship. So we've danced around what it means, but, Leh, why don't you tell everyone what is a conservatorship?

Leh Meriwether: Well, so a conservatorship involves focusing on an individual's financial affairs. It can include everything from paying their bills to making financial investments on their behalf and using approved funds for those purposes and, of course, every state has its own individual definition of it. I know that Georgia has a slightly different definition than California. That's where the conservatorship for Britney Spears was. I believe, we're not California attorneys, but just reading from some of the information online, just the conservatorship is legally defined as a court case where a judge appoints an individual or organization called the conservator to care for someone who cannot care for themselves or who cannot manage their own finances according to the judicial branch of California.

Todd Orston: So very quickly, let me ask. Is this somebody who is going to just be supervising how an individual manages themselves or are we talking about somebody who is stepping in and literally makes the call, that makes all the decisions relating to those financial issues?

Leh Meriwether: Well, as I understand, they're making all the decisions as to financial issues for that person. So in Britney's case, she was able of go out and perform at concerts and that sort of thing, but when it came time to how much you might charge for that concert or where that money goes or how that money is used to pay what bills, that's controlled by the conservator, even when it comes to things like child support because part of the reason at the same time this conservatorship was being put in place, she was losing custody of her children because she did have some serious mental issues several years ago. Was it 13 years ago?

Todd Orston: Yeah, about 13 or so.

Leh Meriwether: Yeah. As a result, the courts found that she shouldn't have primary care of her children. So there was child support that had to be awarded as a result. So the conservatorship once it's put in place takes care of paying that child support. We actually covered, what was it? Federer? Is that his name?

Todd Orston: Yeah. Yeah.

Leh Meriwether: A couple years ago was asking for a-

Todd Orston: A big increase in child support.

Leh Meriwether: Yeah. Was it last year?

Todd Orston: He could not survive without 60,000 a month or something in child support.

Leh Meriwether: Yeah. His birthday parties were $40,000.

Todd Orston: Yeah. Yeah. Well, poor guy.

Leh Meriwether: His birthday parties, not the kid's, his birthday parties.

Todd Orston: I think he needs a hug. That's what he needs or maybe a kick in the pants, but, all right. That was a different show. So yeah. Look, we all read the stories. We all saw that unraveling, right? Britney had some major issues and, Britney, not that you're probably ever going to hear this, but if you do, I'm not throwing stones, right? In family law, we deal with cases that involve mental illness all the time. So whatever she was dealing with the problem and what makes her situation different is simply she's Britney Spears. She was such a public figure, and so when she melted down, it was public. Everyone watched it happen. The shaving of the head, the attacking of a car, I think it was an umbrella, which, of course. I mean, if I'm going to choose a weapon to attack a car, who wouldn't use an umbrella?

Leh Meriwether: That's what penguin says.

Todd Orston: That's right. Exactly, but jokes aside, she melted down and she was actually hospitalized against her will and following that hospitalization, basically, this conservatorship was put in place on a temporary basis, and then it was transitioned to a permanent conservatorship. That's what we're talking about. At that point, she lost complete control over her career and decisions relating to her finances, her business, meaning her singing, her singing career, and it was all that power, authority, whatever you want to call, was given over to a conservator who happen to be her father.

So part of what we're going to talk about today is not just what is a conservatorship, but we want to talk about things that include when is it appropriate to appoint, did she need one, and, basically, was the choice the right choice for her.

Leh Meriwether: We're going to discuss all that when come back.

I just wanted to let you know that if you ever want to listen to the show live, you can listen at 1:00 AM on Monday mornings on WSB. So you can always check us out there as well.

Todd Orston: Better than counting sheep, I guess, right?

Leh Meriwether: That's right.

Todd Orston: You can turn on the show and we'll help you fall asleep.

Leh Meriwether: There you go.

Todd Orston: I'll talk very softly.

Leh Meriwether: Welcome back everyone. This is Leh and Todd, and we are your co-host for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwhether & Tharp. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at atlantadivorceteam.com, and if you want to read a transcript of this show or go back and listen to it again, you can find it at divorceteamradio.com or listen to it wherever you get your podcast. Okay. Britney Spears, conservatorships, very exciting stuff.

Todd Orston: I mean, if ever there was a legal roller coaster, this case is it. I mean-

Leh Meriwether: So tell me, what led to the conservatorship? Well, we started touching on it, but let's continue with that.

Todd Orston: All right. So she had that 2008, I believe, 2007-2008 meltdown. Clearly, and, obviously, we don't have access to lawyers, doctors, whatever, to truly know her mental state at that time, but it was enough that there was an involuntary commitment and she was put into a hospital setting, and out of that was born this conservatorship. Initially, well, not initially, I mean, at that time, her father, Jamie Spears, was made the conservator and, actually, I think he was made a joint conservator and there was supposed to be a kumbaya kind of he working with another conservator to make all the decisions and share some of the responsibility.

Well, depending on who you believe, now you fast forward a little bit. It was first temporary, then it was made permanent, and dad managed everything, and he really took control. So over the last 13 years, it's not just been motion after motion by Britney and her team to terminate the conservatorship. A lot of the fight, I mean, a lot of the fights had to do with just, "I just don't want my dad. I'll be okay with somebody else," and the court a couple of times said, "No. We're going to leave Jamie in place."

There have been legal fights. I mean, when I say a roller coaster about court costs, attorneys' fees, objections to the spending by Jamie Spears, where he was spending something, it was like $16,000 a month in legal fees at one point. At one point, he petitioned the court for 800 plus thousand dollars, but there was criticism that 200 plus thousand of that was for PR work that was being done to paint him in a good light in the public eye because there was so much negative publicity.

So it's like, yeah, at some point, I sit here and I read this and I'm going, "This is so far beyond conservatorship." I mean, if there's a whole PR campaign to keep him in place, and then if you balance that against some of the stories, his position was over the years, "No one loves her more than me. I am doing this out of love."

Leh Meriwether: Tough love.

Todd Orston: Right. "She had major issues. I helped bring her from debt to 60 million in value in terms of her estate. I helped stabilize her so that she could get her kids or have access to her children. I as her father did things because I love her and I want to help her." I'm sure it has nothing to do with the financial benefit that he gets. Anyway, putting that aside, Brittany's side then steps in and says, "Yeah, except for the fact that it has been borderline, if not well over the border of abusive."

So over the years, and I'm not going to go into all the stories because as you can probably imagine, there is story after story after story or relating to this. So depending on which one you read, again, you're going to get a different point of view, but you look at him saying, "I'm doing this because of love," but he's also with a strong thumb in terms of control, just pushing down, controlling all aspects where she says, "There were times I was sick and he forced me to work. There were times when, whatever, decisions that were made in terms of where to sing and who to hire a long-time manager stepped out, he put somebody in place." Again, her point is, "He was doing that to control me."

She kept saying again and again, "I'm exhausted. I am exhausted that I'm working so hard, paying people, meaning my singing, my career is employing all these people, and yet I don't have any control over my estate or my spending. I have to go to my father."

So some of the efforts were to get rid of dad. Those failed. Then she pushed for adding another conservator. This is going to be something we talk more about because in addition to her father then, I'm going to refer to this person as a professional conservator, a neutral party, not related to her, was put into place. It's very interesting, their respective approaches, dad taking, like I said, we're going to go into this more, but dad taking, "Hey, this is what it is and it's going to be this way forever," kind of approach.

The other, lack of better way of putting it, professional conservator, taking a, "I'm approaching this because I would love to get her out of this conservatorship. Let's see if she's healthy. Let's see if she's capable of doing things on her own and if this conservatorship is necessary." So it's a very different approach culminating in not very long ago. Okay?

November 12th, Britney Spear's conservatorship is terminated and the court basically ruled. The court finds and determines that the conservatorship of the person and the estate is no longer required. Therefore, effective today, it's hereby terminated. So after 13 or so years, she is free of that conservatorship.

So what I want to go into, of course, and what we're going to go into is not just why was it put in place, but why did it last so long, and was that reasonable, and also should the fight have taken so long just to change that conservator with all the stories and allegations relating to the behavior of that conservator.

Leh Meriwether: I want to insert some caution here. People will hear reports in different newspaper articles or TMZ, that type of thing, about the abuse. It is really easy to judge someone based upon the comments of another person without knowing all the information. That's what courtrooms are for. While I have issues with our court system sometimes, this is one of those examples where you cannot list. Let me take a step back.

So you have someone who undeniably has had mental issues in the past that resulted in her children being taken away. She attacked a car with an umbrella of all things. Even in the middle of this case, didn't she call 911? She had filed an action with the court, but she called 911 to report herself a victim of conservatorship abuse the day before her court?

Todd Orston: The day before court, and if you read different stories about it, apparently, her own legal team was frantic like, "Why would you do that? We're going to court to deal with this issue tomorrow, and you're going to call the police to talk about an accuse of abuse?" where I know that would've been a situation if we were the attorneys, we'd be looking at her going, "What are you doing?"

Leh Meriwether: Yes, "Stop."

Todd Orston: "That's what tomorrow is for. This makes you look, I don't know, crazy. Just stop."

Leh Meriwether: So a lot of times, and you and I as lawyers have seen it. Someone is not mentally stable and they say things that in isolation you're like, "Wow! That sounds horrible. You've been a victim of some horrible abuse," but it turns out it's their mental instability that's literally creating that story.

I had a case. So this was a divorce case, contested custody. Mom had lost it. I get this nasty letter from posing counsel just saying how my client came inside the house and started screaming at her client and yelling and threatening to hit her in front of the child. I was like, "Wow! That sounds terrible."

So I immediately reached out to my client and said, "What's going on?"

He said, "I was afraid this might happen. Let me share you the audio recording. I started recording every time I talk to her because she was becoming more and more unstable." Then you listened to it, and I kid you not, she was yelling.

My client was like, "Hey, keep your voice down. We don't want him to hear."

"I don't care."

It was exactly the opposite of the story given to me by the opposing counsel. Needless to say, as a strategy, we just responded with two sentences, "I received your information, and after discussing with my client, we strongly disagree with your client's version of the facts, and we would be more than happy to discuss it with the judge in court," and we didn't even tell them we had the audio recording. Planning on surprising them in court.

So needless to say, my client won custody, but that's an example. The person probably sound very reasonable to their lawyer, and then they wrote a really nasty letter as a result. When we come back, we're going to continue to break down why courts are so important in situations like these.

Todd Orston: Hey, everyone. You're listening to our podcast, but you have alternatives. You have choices. You can listen to us live also at 1:00 AM on Monday morning on WSB.

Leh Meriwether: If you're enjoying the show, we would love it if you could go rate us in iTunes or wherever you may be listening to it. Give us a five star rating and tell us why you like the show.

Welcome back, everyone. This is Leh and Todd, and we are your co-host for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwhether & Tharp. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at atlantadivorceteam.com, and if you want to read a transcript of this show, you can find it at divorceteamradio.com.

Well, today, we are pontificating on the conservatorship that was in place for Britney Spears. Yes, we are just taking one potentially bad, maybe good case and saying we need to change all the conservatorship laws because of it. No, I'm just kidding.

Todd Orston: Not what we're saying, but-

Leh Meriwether: Yeah. We are not saying that.

Todd Orston: Yeah. It's one of those things where this is so different than so many other or if not most conservatorship situations because it's Britney Spears. Here, there are many cases where a person needs and is appointed a conservator, but they are borderline functioning, right? I mean, it's someone who can't hold a job, can't basically take care of themselves. Maybe a guardian also is appointed, but the conservator will come in to make sure that the limited funds are going to be available and that the person doesn't just burn through them. That's not what we're dealing with Britney's case. What we're dealing with here is-

Leh Meriwether: Well, not now, but-

Todd Orston: Not now, no, but my point is even back then, I think it was appropriate.

Leh Meriwether: Wasn't she suffering from alcoholism, too?

Todd Orston: Yeah. I think there were some substance abuse issues.

Leh Meriwether: I literally think she had gotten to the point because when all this stuff kicked in, she wasn't. Well, let me take a step back. I don't really follow Britney. So this following statement may be true. I mean, maybe it may not be true. Mine was under the impression she wasn't performing at this point because of her breakdown.

Todd Orston: Yeah. By the way, your free Britney T-shirt that you wear at work all the time tells a different story, but, no. I'm not-

Leh Meriwether: Got it on social media.

Todd Orston: All right. I'm not saying that it's not appropriate. What I'm saying is that Britney presents differently than a lot of cases. Yes, she hit a rock bottom. I get it, but over this 13 or so year period, she also reinvented herself, has a career. I mean, I can't even imagine how hard it is, and granted they get paid for it. So very tiny violins playing, but you know how hard it is to be a performer at that level where it's show after show after show, city after city. There's a lot of work, all the practice that goes into making sure that the show is good. So it's a lot of work. Takes a lot of stability to be able to do it.

Leh Meriwether: Did she want to do all that stuff? Did she want to take a break? You said earlier her father had turned ... She had a negative net worth and had built it up to what, 60 million or something like that?

Todd Orston: That's what he's saying, right, and has a better relationship with kids now, and I'm not taking away from the fact that appointing a conservator was necessary or not necessary. I believe in her situation it was necessary. She had hit rock bottom. What I'm saying and, basically, what we're talking about is, okay, but this is not a normal situation. Over the next 13 years, she handled a career, right? She was Britney Spears. She is Britney Spears. By that I mean not just the person, the public figure, the entertainer, and did shows in Vegas, and did tours and whatever, and that's a lot of work.

Yet, a conservatorship is basically saying, "Yeah. You're in a place where you're not really capable of making some basic decision, good decisions and, therefore, we're going to need to appoint somebody to make those decisions for you."

So to your point earlier, where it's like someone has to step in because they're almost not functioning and we need to safeguard limited funds to make sure that they are cared for or children, child support is there. Here it's like, "Okay, but she was also working her tail off," and that's one of her complaints.

Leh Meriwether: Right. So let's take a step back and just talk about the overall purpose of a conservatorship is so that someone can come step in when someone, whether a mental issue or whatnot, cannot take care of their finances, just completely lacks the ability. Now, that's different than someone who makes a lot of unwise choices. So people might listen to this and go, "Gosh! My son just keeps buying stupid stuff. He makes money and then goes out and buys a brand new car, and then he makes some, and he gets a raise, and then he upgrades his car to the next fastest car, and he's just in constant debt, and he has a negative net worth. Maybe I need to do conservatorship for my son because he has a negative of net worth."

No. That's not what conservatorships are for. In that situation, he's just making bad choices. So the question I think that Britney's lawyers are trying to argue that, "Hey, look. Her dad may be right. Maybe she isn't the best at managing her finances, but that should be her choice. She's an adult. She shouldn't be forced to be under his thumb anymore."

Even though his, well, I don't want to use that, that sounds bad, but under his control, even though, let's assume for the sake of this conversation, that her father was coming from a good place, that because of his management, she has a high net worth, but for her own actions, she'd have a negative net worth, have nothing to retire with, and could potentially be filing for bankruptcy any day, but the point is shouldn't you have the freedom to go bankrupt then. I mean, otherwise, people could come into courts all the time and say, "Hey, this person just cannot manage their finances. I need to take over."

Todd Orston: Yeah. Let's just deal with, and this is something that I've sort of complained about over the years, not that I could do anything about it, but how many stories are there of celebrities, whether they be athletes or musicians, that at one point are riding high and you're thinking they are probably taking their helicopter just to the supermarket? I mean, they don't go to the supermarket, but you know what I'm saying that they just have so much money it's just a whole different world and yet, they're broke, that they burned through their entire estate, that somebody who at some point was very famous, made tons of money, and then you're hearing that they have nothing. Okay?

They don't all get conservators. I mean, to your earlier about just bad financial decision making, if that were the case, I would venture a guess that probably 90% of the population of the world should probably have a conservator. Okay?

Leh Meriwether: You just look at everybody's credit card debt probably.

Todd Orston: Right. So it's not about and shouldn't be about just some bad decisions that you're making regarding your finances. It should be truly connected to a mental health issue where it's, "This person has no ability right now to take care of their own finances and make good decisions, and if we don't put something in place, someone in place to offer a level of management to prevent the horrible things from happening, they're just going to blow through everything."

So we see it coming as opposed to just a famous singer, another famous singer, who basically just they buy cars and watches and trips and parties and they don't get 60,000 a month in child support that they can fund it all. That person doesn't get the conservator, but Britney who attacked a car with an umbrella gets a conservator and can't get rid of it for 13 years. I understand the argument. Also, to your point earlier, I don't know everything about this situation. I don't know behind closed doors about medical diagnoses, about is there this severe underlying mental health issue that was being used as the basis to explain to a court, "This is why it can't go away yet."

Leh Meriwether: Right, and there could have been, I mean, it sounds like, again, I'm giving full faith and credit to the court system, that there was evidence presented in court that while she was fully capable of performing on stage, there was still something else missing that would completely have inhibited or prevented her from managing finances. Honestly, I can truly see that. I have seen. The reason I'm somewhat aware of conservatorships and guardianships is because people have come to me. Now, we don't handle these, personally. We don't handle these, at least not currently, but people come to me because there are parents who you meet and talk to, you think they're perfectly fine, but they have lost their entire retirement because they did, I mean, just, and we're not talking about just, they got conned so bad because they just didn't understand things.

So I saw someone lose a half a million dollars in retirement or another one's $7,000 or $50,000 and a 401(k) gone, and there should have been a conservatorship in place with them, and it's such a fine line. I don't think I could even explain it in this show the difference between being unwise and just there needs to be a conservatorship.

When we come back, we're going to continue to breakdown conservatorships and the Britney Spears case.

Todd Orston: I just want let you know that if you ever wanted to listen to the show live, you can listen at 1:00 AM on Monday mornings on WSB. So you can always check us out there as well, better than better like counting sheep, I guess, right?

Leh Meriwether: That's right.

Todd Orston: You can turn on the show and we'll help you fall asleep.

Leh Meriwether: There you go.

Todd Orston: I'll talk very softly.

Leh Meriwether: Welcome back, everyone. This is Leh and Todd, and we are your co-host for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwhether & Tharp. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at atlantadivorceteam.com, and if you want to read a transcript of this show, you can find it at divorceteamradio.com.

Well, today we're talking about Britney Spears and actually more specifically about conservatorships and somewhat about guardianships. Well, Todd?

Todd Orston: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, look, I know I joked about you having the free Britney T-shirt, but it's a real thing, right? I mean, there were-

Leh Meriwether: I really don't have one.

Todd Orston: No, no, no. I know. I know. I actually think I want one. I may go online and try and find one. It might be a collector item at some point, but look. The fact that there is a fan base that was ready, willing, and able to get vocal about their belief that she should be freed from this conservatorship, that's great. I mean, I'm glad that there were people there to support, but as a lawyer, I will tell you, and maybe it's just my personality, our personality, I always go into a room saying, "If I wasn't there, I may not know everything I need to know."

I've seen attorneys and I've seen other are parties where they make allegations and I've had situations where an attorney will jump in and go, "Well, this is what happened," and I'm like, "Were you there? No, you weren't because my client is saying something completely different, and you're talking as if you literally were right there."

So free Brittany, I get it, but the problem with the movement is we don't know what's exactly going on behind closed doors. We don't know what medical diagnoses are. We don't maybe have all the facts we need to determine whether or not it's appropriate in 2007- 2008, and whether it is still appropriate now.

Leh Meriwether: Right, and following up on that point, and I'm just going to vent for just a minute. Nothing irritates me more than to hear a politician, any politician, I don't care if they're libertarian or Democrat or Republican, hear one case and go, "Oh," or they hear the rumors or they read something on TMZ and go, "You know what? We need to change the law because this just doesn't seem right."

I'm like, "Wait a minute. First off, you don't know anything about the case. Secondly, you're a federal lawmaker. This is a state-by-state issue. Every state, going back to rural public, and each individual states make laws regarding how conservatorships work and guardianships." By the way, I mean, if we haven't been clear so far, if you have a parent you're worried about, reach out, call for a consultation with a lawyer in your state or, actually, the state where your parent lives, and if you're caring for a child you don't think can care for themselves once they turn 18, ahead of time, reach out, talk to a lawyer, get a consultation, pay for a consultation, talk to them about the circumstances of the case and see if a guardianship and/or conservatorship is right for your circumstances.

Don't listen to what you hear on TV or read in these celebrity articles, and don't listen to our conversation about Britney Spears. Go talk to a local lawyer about, when I say local it's got to be in the state where the person's residing, and find out about the laws there, see if perhaps there is something you can do to protect someone because I think it sounds pretty clear that Britney needed help at the very beginning. I don't think there's a whole lot of dispute about that or argument about that.

So the argument was whether it should keep going forward and/or whether her father should have been in charge, but he may have even saved her life or saved her monetarily speaking, and it's not a permanent thing, but don't hesitate. Pick up the phone and schedule a consultation.

Like I said in the last segment, I have seen people lose their entire retirement because they just shouldn't have been caring for their finances anymore, and had the child stepped in earlier, and nobody's at fault except for the parent at the end of the day, the person who lost the money, but had there been a conservatorship in place, it never would've happened.

Todd Orston: Right. Again, we're talking about situations where someone has a disability, meaning not disability in the medical sense, but an inability to make good decisions because everyone, I mean, that's what I was saying before. Too many people make bad financial decisions. So if we were to put a conservator in place for every one of those, that doesn't make sense, just like it doesn't make sense to your point about politicians jumping in and saying, "There ought to be a law." Well, there are laws, and that's the federal government coming into try and outlaw hammers because one person used a hammer to hit somebody with.

Leh Meriwether: Right. Exactly.

Todd Orston: It's like, "No, no. We have laws and you're not supposed to hit people, but hammers are good things."

Leh Meriwether: That person who hit the person with a hammer is going to go to jail.

Todd Orston: That's right.

Leh Meriwether: There's law already in place. Just let the court system process that crime. So in this case, we don't know if her father really did the things she claims or is that because of whatever mental instability it was there at one point. Is her version of the facts not the facts? Let the court system play it out. If there was abuse because I know here in Georgia there's actually a requirement, it's in the law, that you account for all the money. You have to account for that money. If he is not properly accounted for it, he can be penalized by the court. He can find that he breached the conservatorship. Well, at least I'm speaking for Georgia right now. He could potentially be found in breach of his duties. There could be some financial consequences for that.

So there's no reason to change the law from what I have heard. I have not heard of any reason to change any law at this time because it has not finished going through the court system. Sorry. That's my story.

Todd Orston: No, no. It's absolutely valid. Look, that brings me to the point that I mentioned earlier, which is it is my belief that it's not the tool that is broken. Conservatorships, I believe, are a necessary tool, but was her father the right person for the job? Was her father the right person to remain in that position over the span of the conservatorship? Okay? His position being, "I did everything out of love," but you can't ignore the fact that a lot of money went to him. Many of the fights, the legal fights, if you read, there were fights over hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees for his team. There were fights where he tried to prohibit and prevent her from building up her own legal team to stop money flowing for her to spend on because it would cost too much money.

There were fights over the appointment of a neutral conservator. So the bottom line is it became to me very interesting. When you look at her father's position of almost like, "She's never going to get better. So let me just keep managing everything. Britney, you go sing, okay? We're going to keep building this estate," as opposed to once the court put this second neutral conservator and that conservator's position was one of, "I'm trying to do things to determine if she is going to be able to do this on her own. How long will a conservatorship be required?" That's very, very different.

Clearly, November 12th or whatever I said, November 12th, the court agreed and finally said, "You know what? It's time. It is time. She's doing all these things on her own. You know what? Maybe it's time. Let's see if she sinks her swims," because it can't be the court's responsibility just to make sure that the Spears' estate has millions of dollars at the end because there are plenty, plenty, plenty of people where they should have a lot of money at the end of their career and they don't.

Leh Meriwether: Right, but they had the freedom to make those choices, whether their good choices or bad choices.

Todd Orston: That's right.

Leh Meriwether: I like your point that the conservators are so important. I didn't even know there was professional licensed conservators. I wonder if that's a California thing and not a Georgia thing. Anyways, I think the problem with her father is that he could get to a point where his love, I'm going to, again, try to give him the benefit of the doubt, became a hindrance to Britney's freedom. At the end of the day, his love was blinding him saying, "Look, I'm doing this for your best interest. I want you to have as much money in your pocket as possible," but she was at a good place, mentally speaking, and that she should be allowed to make bad choices. Period. He wasn't wanting to let her do that.

Todd Orston: Yup. I understand if it's a mental health issue and if there is support there where you can rely on evidence that, "Look, it's a mental health issue. It's an inability to properly manage her estate." That's one thing, but if she is managing her mental health and there's no evidence that she's just going to start beating cars with umbrellas again, then I would tend to agree with the court's decision to say, It's time to stand on your own."

Leh Meriwether: Well, everyone, I hope you enjoyed our discussion about conservatorships, and we barely touched on guardianships, and the Britney Spears case. Thank you so much for listening.