Governor Newsom Signs #FreeBritney Law, Hoping to Reform Conservatorships

Genius Turner

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Britney Spears has been embroiled in a highly-publicized fight for freedom from her own father.(Eva Rinaldi/Flickr)

Newsom recently signed a law to reform conservatorships in California

California — "Britney Spears Is Released From Her Father’s Oversight," reads the incredible NY Times headline. Given that Spears is merely two months shy of her 40th birthday, most people are left scratching their heads upon learning Jamie Spears controlled his daughter's "financial and personal decisions for 13 years."

As for how the father of one of the world's biggest pop stars came to oversee her empire, chalk it up to a U.S. law called "conservatorship."

Conservatorship occurs whenever a court appoints someone to manage the affairs of a person ruled incapable of handling his/her own financial, and sometimes personal, affairs. Whether it's a debilitated adult or minor, in states such as California — both roles are classified as conservatorship.

The new law comes on the heels of a Los Angeles judge suspending Spears' father from the guardian role ("conservator of the person"). He also held the financial role called "conservator of the estate."

"Power tends to corrupt," said Lord Acton, "and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Perhaps this explains why for years Spears had been quietly fighting for freedom from her father's excessive control.

This week, Britney Spears's dream came true!

In a statement after the bill passed the legislature, California Assemblymember Evan Low, a Democrat who introduced the bill, said:

This bill saw unanimous support throughout the process because we know there are systemic failures when it comes to conservatorships in California. We've seen the heartbreaking case of Britney Spears play out in the public eye, but there are hundreds — if not thousands — of other cases in which families are struggling.

From the compelling documentary Framing Britney Spears to the #FreeBritney movement, Spears's case drew worldwide attention.

With such systematic failings held under a microscope, it was only a matter of time before California lawmakers closed loopholes in a system said to lack "accountability and transparency."

As Low put it: "We need to do everything in our power to help them and their loved ones receive the care and support they need."

In short, the reform bill not only requires nonprofessional conservators overseeing estates — valued over a million dollars — to register as trained professionals but also the law penalizes "up to $50,000 if a court finds a conservator has not acted in the best interest of the client."

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