On Friday, May 8th, the LA Times announced that Bobbi Brown and Pat Houston were granted guardianship over Bobbi Kristina “Krissi” Brown. Guardianship of an adult is synonymous with the term “conservatorship,” and in this case refers to conservatorship of the person – or legal rights in regard to the care and medical decisions of another adult. Kristina Brown is Whitney Houston’s only daughter, and sole heir to Houston’s estate – which is estimated to be about $21 million dollars. After being found unconscious in her bathtub in January, her father Bobbi and aunt, Pat Houston, began seeking a conservatorship over Kristina through the help of an attorney. Kristina is apparently in stable condition, but is still unconscious and being cared for in a rehab facility. While she can now breathe on her own, no other improvements have been noted, or at least made public.
The judge also named a conservator for Bobbi Kristina’s considerable estate – Bedelia Hargrove, an attorney from Atlanta. When an estate is sizeable, or there is not an obvious family member to take on the role of managing it, a neutral third party can be named as conservator. This can be an attorney, professional fiduciary, or other trusted individual. In Kristina Brown’s case, the court selected Ms. Hargrove of Atlanta, Georgia.
The conservatorship over Bobbi Kristina is unusual in that she is so young. In most conservatorship matters, a family member will seek a conservatorship over an elderly family member who suffers from Alzheimer’s, dementia, ALS, or another disabling condition which affects their mental capacity. In these cases, both a conservatorship of the person as well as a conservatorship of the estate are often necessary, as in Bobbi Kristina’s case. Conservatorships over younger individuals are often sought for adult children with special needs, but are limited in their powers. They are thus termed “Limited conservatorships”. Conservatorships for younger individuals are most frequently obtained when downs syndrome, severe autism, or another condition that limits their abilities is present. However, a conservatorship may also be necessary if a young person has substantial assets and is determined by the court to be unable to manage said assets. This was the case with Britney Spears, whose father obtained a conservatorship over her in 2008. An interesting point to note, which comes up in Britney’s case is that conservators (the person(s) granted control) are often compensated for their efforts. In Britney’s case, her father was paid an estimated $192,000/year as of 2008.
Conservatorships can be complicated. For questions about an existing conservatorship, or to find out if one may be necessary, call the Law Offices of Matthew B. Talbot in Walnut Creek at 925-322-1763. We offer a free consultation and will be happy to speak with you about your matter.