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Understanding Conservatorship And Guardianship In Texas

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Britney Spears conservatorship case hearing in Los Angeles
MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS
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A person protests in support of pop star Britney Spears on the day of a conservatorship case hearing at Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 23, 2021. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Pop star Britney Spears continues to fight in court to be released from her 13-year-long conservatorship, under which her father legally controls her money and day-to-day life decisions. The case goes back in front of a judge on Wednesday at Los Angeles Superior Court.

What is conservatorship? How is it different from guardianship? When is it considered appropriate for someone to take legal control of an individual's personal and financial decisions, and why is it sometimes controversial?

Laws related to conservatorship and guardianship differ state by state. In Texas, the terms are not interchangeable. Conservatorships are related to children and their parents, while guardianships are for adults who have become incapacitated, and children whose parents are deceased.

How do conservatorships and guardianships work? Who can they apply to and for how long? What are the different types and what powers are involved?

What factors does a court weigh when deciding whether to make someone a legal conservator or guardian? What is the definition of “incapacity” in Texas?

A person can have a disability without being incapacitated. What are the advantages and disadvantages of guardianship for a person living with a mental or physical disability? What are the alternatives?

Can these decisions be contested? What is the potential for abuse? What rights do children, elders and people living with disabilities have in these situations?

How do you know if a family member or friend needs a guardian or conservator? What factors should be considered?

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*This interview was recorded on Thursday, July 15.