Breaking Britney Spears’ Guardianship with Guardianship Expert Franca Tavella

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In June, pop icon Britney Spears practically spoke to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge for 20 minutes, testifying about how her years of guardianship had negatively impacted her life.

For 13 years, the now 39-year-old pop star has been subjected to constant surveillance, a grueling workload and multiple restrictions preventing her from making decisions for herself regarding finances, marriage and even his own health care.

Led by concerned fans and human rights activists, the #FreeBritney movement has captured national attention. The issue even made its way to Congress, with the introduction of the FREE Act.

Spears’ story has sparked many conversations, including about the rights of people with disabilities, reproductive freedom, and the rights of people detained under similar legal arrangements.

Franca Tavella, a guardianship expert with Kleinbard LLC in Philadelphia, recently spoke with AL DÍA to shed some light on a person’s rights under these arrangements.

After 13 years, Spears’ court-appointed attorney, Samuel D. Ingham, III, resigned and a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled that the singer could choose her own attorney to represent her case in the future.

“While considered a win for #FreeBritney supporters, it seems obvious that Spears should have gotten this right a long time ago,” Tavella wrote in a recent blog post.

As Spears’ case continues to make headlines, Tavella believes it’s imperative for Pennsylvania residents and anyone following the movement to understand the ins and outs of these arrangements and basic human rights. presumed incapable.

First, Tavella explained, the person presumed incapable (AIP) must be notified of the petition and the hearing at least 20 days in advance. It is also crucial that they know how their rights will be affected.

“The key is that you sort of explain that in language that the allegedly incapable person is also likely to understand, which is difficult because you’re often dealing with people with dementia, Down syndrome, autism or other severe cognitive impairment,” Tavella said.

An AIP also has the right to request a lawyer, have him appointed by the court and charge for this service if necessary. An AIP may also request an independent psychiatric evaluation to determine mental capacity.

Once the hearing is over and the person declared incapable, they must be informed within 10 days of their right to appeal the decision and request the modification or termination of the guardianship.

An AIP also has the right to apply to court for a review hearing at any time during guardianship, but especially in circumstances where the person’s capacity has changed significantly or their guardian has failed to perform their duties under the law. or in the best interests of the incapacitated person.

Given these facts, it is unclear how and why Spears was held under this guardianship for over a decade.

Spears quietly defied conservatorship for years before scoring victories.

“In 2014, she first said she didn’t want her dad to serve as her curator because of his own drinking and shortcomings. It’s been seven years. So it’s just a shame it took so long for this [the case] to get to where he is now. But hopefully with the new attorney and this recent petition to remove her father, things will start to move faster,” Tavella said.

Despite her mental health crisis in 2007, Spears has remained incredibly busy with her career, questioning the validity of her incapacitation.

Since the start of the artist’s tutelage, she has been able to release four albums, go on tour and be a judge at the X factor.

“So that just begs the question…how could she be so unable to justify a 13-year conservatorship, yet she has enough capacity to play and release albums, tour and serve as a judge on a TV show “, said Tavella. .

With health decisions, an appointed guardian has the authority to make all medical decisions for an AIP.

Tavella is serving as a guardian for a Pennsylvania resident who suffered a severe traumatic injury, and she was contacted to authorize health decisions such as administering the COVID-19 vaccine and anesthesia for a procedure.

“That’s the kind of burden you envision, that the person’s guardian would be responsible for making all of these decisions for a person. So in that sense, if Britney was so incapable, then yes, the guardian would be able to cover her reproductive rights,” Tavella said.

But the questions remain: If Spears had the ability to choose her own lawyer, perform on tour, serve as a guest judge on X Factor, write and release albums, why didn’t she have the ability to choose if she stays on birth control?

Just as she wrote in her recent blog post, Tavella believes Spears should have had the opportunity to seek a new attorney long before this year.

There’s no denying that Spears experienced serious mental health and addiction issues, but Tavella finds it hard to believe that the singer lacked the capacity to understand her right to seek counsel.

“Spears should have had that right much earlier, to retain her own attorney,” she said.

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