Conservatorship and Guardianship Abuse Awareness Day Date in the current year: February 1, 2024

Conservatorship and Guardianship Abuse Awareness Day Conservatorship and Guardianship Abuse Awareness Day was created to advocate for better protection of conservatees and wards from abuse. It is observed annually on February 1 to commemorate the day in 2008 when Britney Spears was involuntarily placed under conservatorship.

Under the United States law, the terms “conservatorship” and “guardianship” refer to the appointment of a person who has legal control over the decisions of another person. They are very similar and may even be used interchangeably in some states, but in most cases, there is a difference. 

Legal guardians usually have control over decisions relevant to the personal or property interests of a minor, whereas conservators make financial decisions on behalf of an incapacitated or incompetent adult. A person under guardianship is called a ward, and a person under conservatorship is called a conservatee.

Although conservatorship and guardianship are meant to protect the interests of those who can’t take care of themselves, conservators and guardians may abuse their power over the people they are supposed to take care of and protect. One of the most widely publicized cases of conservatorship abuse was the Britney Spears conservatorship dispute.

In January 2008, American pop star Britney Spears was placed under an involuntary psychiatric hold two times. After the second time, a Los Angeles court placed both Spears and her estate under temporary conservatorship of her father Jaime Spears and attorney Andrew M. Wallet.

The conservatorship was meant to last only for a few days, but it was later extended for months and eventually made permanent against Britney’s objections. Jaime had almost complete control over his daughter’s life and estate for more than a decade. During most of this time, the supposedly incapacitated singer continued to record music and tour.

In 2019, Jaime Spears was hospitalized for a life-threatening condition, and Britney put her career on hiatus. In April, her fans started the #FreeBritney movement, questioning the need for conservatorship and its legality, which gained significant media attention during the COVID-19 pandemic. In June 2021, Spears asked to terminate her conservatorship while making a public statement during court proceedings. It was formally terminated on November 12, 2021.

Conservatorship and Guardianship Abuse Awareness Day was launched in early 2021 by Lisa MacCarley, an American attorney and conservatorship and guardianship reform activist. MacCarley wanted to raise awareness of the fact that while sometimes guardianship and conservatorship are valid, they may be used to control a person’s livelihood and do more harm than good. Another goal of the observance is to bring public and media attention to this type of abuse and make sure that abusers are investigated and held accountable.

Conservatorship and Guardianship Abuse Awareness Day events include conferences, seminars and webinars, workshops, and other events that help to raise awareness about the issue of guardianship and conservatorship abuse, as well as allow legal professionals to share expertise. You can observe the day by participating in one of these events, organizing an event of your own, donating to an organization that supports victims of abuse, and spreading the word about the observance on social media.

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