Before Britney, there was Amanda Bynes: A Lawyer Perspective on High-Level Conservation | Burns & Levinson LLP


At the start of this blog, I liked using celebrity estate planning mistakes to illustrate what not to do about your own planning. I’ve been thinking about this series a lot lately, especially as stories about the Free Britney Movement flooded my threads with news. Of course, Britney Spears isn’t the first celebrity to lose control over her personal and financial decisions, and it happens almost daily in courts across the country.

Remember Amanda Bynes? The former child star had a seemingly bright future ahead of her, until she was derailed by mental health and addiction issues. She was on and off treatment, and in 2013 she launched a series of rants on Twitter calling other celebrities “ugly.” Around this time, her mother applied for and was granted guardianship over her. In California, this takes two forms: Conservatorship of the Person (under Massachusetts law, it is a “Guardianship”) and Conservatorship of the Estate (under Massachusetts law, it is of a “Conservatorship”). Stories have cropped up over the years with various controversies between Amanda and her mother over financial and personal affairs, highlighting in a very public way the issues that many conservatives (also known as protected persons, or neighborhoods, according to jurisdiction and context) face. Some observations:

  • Amanda complained about the way her mother handled her finances, in particular the choice to pay $ 5,200 per month to a treatment center. Of course, her mother has fiduciary duties to exercise good discretion over Amanda’s assets and expenses, and what might be unreasonable in the context of a more modest estate may well be seen as reasonable in the context of an estate of $ 5,000,000 and a protected person in need. treatment. In Massachusetts, accounts would be required, and both the protected person and (in most cases) a court-appointed ad litem guardian would have the opportunity to review and file objections, which the court would ultimately decide.
  • Some reports have indicated that the guardianship of the estate has ended, leaving only the guardianship of the person in place, possibly because the assets were transferred to one or more trusts under the control of a trustee (unsupervised by court) rather than a Registrar. In Massachusetts, that would require a separate petition from the curator asking for specific permission to engage in this form of planning.
  • Amanda also complained about her mother’s control over her personal life, including taking control of her social media channels and refusing to grant Amanda permission to marry her fiance, whom she met in treatment. detoxification. The extent to which a curator or guardian can restrict important personal decisions (e.g. marriage) and day-to-day interactions (e.g. social media) will depend on the extent of authority granted in the decree establishing the relationship. . In Massachusetts, courts are careful to restrict personal autonomy only to the extent necessary to protect the person under guardianship. Often, even when important decisions are restricted, a protected person will retain the power to make day-to-day decisions for themselves. In either case, the guardian’s decisions must be made within the framework of a good exercise of discretion, or these decisions can be challenged.

Till next time!

Tiffany


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