Conservatorship/guardianship has recently come under the spotlight with the documentary about Britney Spears, along with the ongoing hearings about her own conservatorship.
Historically, conservatorships/guardianships were designed to protect people with decreasing faculties from those who want to take advantage of them by securing their resources. Independent third parties are assigned legal authority to make decisions on their behalf to best preserve their wellbeing and financial interests.
The conservatorship model has been used to offer similar protections for those who struggle to care for themselves and manage their financial affairs and resources. Several mental health conditions can also make individuals vulnerable to injury, theft, and fraud.
Those who petition for a conservatorship or guardianship must meet a high legal burden of proof that demonstrates to the judge the person's incapacity. If they succeed, they are subject to strict, ongoing court supervision.
Once a conservatorship/guardianship is in place, the legal burden shifts to the individual to show a court that they can keep themselves safe, manage their own affairs, and no longer need conservatorship/guardianship.
This often motivates the individual to submit to treatment, gain insight into their illness, and make positive choices to stay healthy and self-governing.
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