“I’m sorry that I put my problems onto the Internet, but this is what life has come to.”
Britney Spears is finally free from the control of a conservatorship overseen by her father Jamie, something she’d been fighting against for 12 years with the support of many in the entertainment industry.
A conservatorship is generally enacted when an adult cannot care for themselves or their finances and, according to the Superior Court of California, allows a judge to grant a guardian full control over an individual’s estate or “person”. For those with conservators of the person, like Britney’s case, control is granted over the person’s daily life, health decisions, and living arrangements.
In court, Britney had claimed that the conservatorship controlled far too much of her life — from the ability for her boyfriend to give her a ride in his car to the decisions she makes about family planning.
But Britney wasn’t alone in living her life under a conservatorship. While Britney’s situation was unique in that it extended far past a temporary situation, other stars have turned towards conservatorships during difficult periods of their life. While some have appreciated the guidance of a conservatorship, others weren’t as lucky.
Amanda Bynes has been under a conservatorship run by her mother Lynn Organ since 2014. The legal agreement was put in place after Amanda faced a series of personal difficulties, including several driving and drug-related arrests and some erratic behavior that culminated in a psychiatric hold. Amanda entered treatment, where she was diagnosed as bipolar and manic depressive, and Lynn was placed in charge of her estate which was reportedly worth over $5 million at the time.
In the years following, Amanda enrolled in college and didn’t speak much about her personal life as she took a step back from the spotlight. Then in 2020, Amanda decided to speak out about her conservatorship on Instagram, explaining she wasn’t happy with the terms and wished to speak with a judge about spending less money on her treatment.
“I have been going to a treatment center that charges $5,200 a month. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t go to a therapist who takes my insurance for $5,000 less a month. This is why I’ve asked to see the judge next week regarding this conservatorship issue…I’m sorry that this is what I’m dealing with and I’m sorry that I put my problems onto the Internet, but this is what life has come to,” Amanda said in a video. It’s unclear if Amanda was able to change the terms of her conservatorship.
The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson was placed under a conservatorship in the 1990s after years of treatment from a questionable psychologist. Dr. Eugene Landy had been hired by Brian’s wife in 1975 in order to help the musician deal with his drug abuse and other concerning behaviors. Unfortunately, he was misdiagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic and overmedicated. Over time, Dr. Landy’s unorthodox round the clock treatment saw him taking more and more control over Brian’s life, from the food he ate to the music he wrote.
Years later, Brian’s new girlfriend saw that there was something terribly wrong with the situation surrounding Dr. Landy, who had become Brian’s legal guardian, and began to fight for the musician’s freedom. The Wilson family filed a lawsuit and asked the court to place Brian under a conservatorship. By 1992, Dr. Landy was banned from contacting Brian and the musician’s affairs were placed under a conservatorship’s control.
After Joni Mitchell suffered an aneurysm that left her unable to speak in 2015, she was placed under a temporary conservatorship controlled by her friend Leslie Morris. During Joni’s recovery, Leslie was reportedly responsible for providing “temporary care, maintenance and support” but was not allowed to “take possession of money or any other property without a specific court order.” Although it’s unclear if Joni is still under the conservatorship, she has made a major recovery since the aneurysm and recently said she is spending time “concentrating on getting my health back.”
The Eagles’ bassist Randy Meisner requested a conservatorship for himself following the passing of his wife in 2016. Randy’s children had reportedly been trying to place the musician under a conservatorship for some time, which he did not want. In order to prevent their control of his affairs, Randy requested his longtime friend Arthur Ford and his accountant to oversee his affairs while in a “profound state of grief.”
In the final years of Mickey Rooney’s life, he faced immense struggle, allegedly including elder abuse and being robbed of his fortune by family members. After opening up about his situation to a studio executive, Mickey was recommended to a lawyer who assisted him in setting up the conservatorship in order to regain control of his assets. The process was overseen by a state trust lawyer, who greatly limited Mickey’s family from contacting him in order to prevent anymore of the alleged abuse. Although Mickey is said to have improved under the new supervised conditions, his family fought the conservatorship until the day he died.