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Celebrity illustrates the benefits of guardianship

Many readers in the Seattle area have enjoyed the music of Britney Spears over the years. Many, too, have heard reports of the singer's life spiraling out of control in events that led her father to petition for legal guardianship of the singer's person and estate. Most often, when Washington residents petition for guardianship, they are seeking legal authority to intervene and provide care for a loved one who needs help getting through a difficult time due to incapacity.

As guardian of the estate, Spears' father gained legal authority to control his daughter's finances and manage them in her best interest. Beyond managing money and paying bills, the typical powers of a guardian of an estate usually include selling or leasing property, investing assets, and executing contracts. As guardian of the person, the father gained legal authority to have the final word about certain decisions affecting the singer's personal life.

Common powers of a guardian of the person include authority over the ward's right to vote, to execute certain legal documents, to consent to certain medical procedures, and even to get married. The person petitioning for guardianship typically has to demonstrate that the proposed ward is unable to make competent choices about important life decisions due to some form of incapacity. Incapacity may result from a medical or psychological condition, or from drug or alcohol abuse.

In a case that illustrates how a guardianship can be of vital assistance to a loved one in need, Spears credits her father's intervention with saving her life. Her case sheds light on the need to have the proper tools, such as the help of an experienced estate planning attorney, to plan for the goals and inevitabilities of the future.

Source: New York Post, "Britney Spears to regain control of finances: report," Jan. 23, 2012

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