What is a conservatorship and what does it mean for your money?

A conservator has the legal right to the oversee financial affairs of someone else

In recent years, stars like Britney Spears have spoken up about conservatorships and how they are affected by them. 

Although Spears was one of the biggest stars to speak out about her conservatorship under her father, Jamie Spears, she is not alone. In recent news, former NFL player, Michael Oher, along with Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, have been in a legal battle surrounding Oher's conservatorship. 

Here is more information about conservatorships and situations like Spears' and Oher's.

Michael Oher at SiriusXM

Michael Oher was a former NFL player and inspiration behind the 2009 movie, "The Blind Side." (Roy Rochlin/Getty Images / Getty Images)

  1. Michael Oher's conservatorship
  2. Britney Spears' conservatorship
  3. What is a conservatorship?
  4. What other celebrities have had conservatorships?

1. Michael Oher's conservatorship 

The Oscar nominated film, "The Blind Side," was released in 2009 and was based on the life story of the former NFL player. Oher and the Memphis couple, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, are now in a legal battle. Oher is alleging he received no compensation from the multimillion-dollar film and was falsely entered into a conservatorship.

Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, portrayed by Tim McGraw and Sandra Bullock in the film, had a longstanding relationship to the NFL player. They now want to end the conservatorship with Oher that he is challenging in court, according to their lawyers. 

Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy's lawyer, Randall Fishman, said that the family intends to enter into a concent order to end their conservatorship with Oher.  

The family's attorney, Steve Farese, shared that Oher and the Tuohy's have been estranged from one another for about a decade. 

Oher, has filed a petition that tells a different story. He claims that the family lied to him, having him sign papers that made them his conservators rather than his adoptive parents. However, Fishman noted Oher mentioned the Tuohys being his conservators three times in his 2011 book "I Beat The Odds: From Homeless, To The Blindside." 

Oher claims that he received no money from the multimillion-dollar film. Michael Lewis, author of "The Blind Side," has spoken out to The Washington Post that no one involved in the book saw major profits from the film. Though, it did earn nearly $310 million from the box office. 

Tuohy's lawyer said they estimated Oher and the family received $100,000 apiece for the movie, and the couple paid taxes on the player's portion. Lewis said that the studio paid $250,000 for the option to make the book into a movie. He said that money was split evenly with the family. Out of all the money made on the film, Lewis said he and the Tuohy's got about $350,000 each. 

r Quinton Aaron, Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw attend the premiere of "The Blind Side"

From left to right, Quinton Aaron, Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw all were in the 2009 film, "The Blind Side." (Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images / Getty Images)


2. Britney Spears' conservatorship

In Spears' case, her father served as conservator for the majority of the time she was under the conservatorship, which began in 2008. He stepped down temporarily in 2019, and the singer's care manager, Jodi Montgomery, temporarily took over.

In November 2020, a judge declined to suspend Jamie Spears from his role as conservator despite requests from the pop star that he be blocked. 

She has since spoken out in great detail about the alleged "abusive" nature of her conservatorship. In a June 2021 hearing in Los Angeles, Spears claimed her father stood idle while she was made to look incompetent. She added that he was responsible for making all of her life decisions.

"My family didn’t do a Godd--- thing," she said in court. "Anything I had to do, [my dad] was the one who approved all of it. My whole family did nothing."


Britney Spears conservatorship illustration

Britney Spears was under a conservatorship until 2021. (Digital composition with images from Getty Images)

Spears stated that she wanted her conservatorship to end immediately. "It’s not OK to force me to do anything I don’t want to," Spears said. "The conservatorship should end. I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive."

The singer then hired her own attorney, Mathew Rosengart. In September 2021, he filed documents in Los Angeles Superior Court asking for her conservatorship to end in the fall and without the need for Spears to have to undergo mental health or medical evaluations. He also pointed to her father's alleged inexperience prior to taking over the star's estate years ago.

In a court filing dated Monday, Sept. 27, Jamie argued that Rosengart's request to appoint John Zabel to replace him as conservator "should be denied." He and his legal team also claimed there was no need for a replacement because he currently still holds the position.

Jamie Spears did file a request saying he was willing to step down as her sole conservator when the time was "right" and a "smooth transition" could occur.


Britney Spears performing

There were years of legal battle for the star until the conservatorship was finally ended. (Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic / Getty Images)

The conservatorship battle ended in November 2021, when Jamie Spears filed to end the matter. 

According to Forbes, conservatorships like Spears' can place strict limitations on the conservatee, including whether they can get married or even drive a car.

In fact, a conservatorship is a relatively rare move for the courts to make considering the harsh restrictions that can be placed on the conservatee. It is most often used in the case of aging adults suffering from dementia and the like, the outlet reports.

In addition to such aspects of a conservatee's daily life, a conservator also can also oversee finances.

In 2016, the New York Times reported that in Spears' case, "her most mundane purchases, from a drink at Starbucks to a song on iTunes, are tracked in court documents as part of the plan to safeguard the great fortune she has earned but does not ultimately control."

Britney Spears smiling

Conservatorships place strict restraints on an individuals personal life and financials. (Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagic / Getty Images)


This is only one example, but it displays the depths to which a conservatorship can stretch, possibly leaving a conservatee all but cut off from their own finances.

3. What is a conservatorship?

A conservatorship exists when a guardian of sorts, known as a conservator, is appointed to oversee the financial affairs, and sometimes daily life, of another person, the conservatee.

They are put in place by the courts due to someone's inability to oversee their affairs themselves, be it because of disability, age or something else entirely.


Free Britney flags

Many rallied together to show support for Britney Spears during her conservatorship battle. (Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Corporations and organizations, such as banks, can also serve as conservators.

4. What other celebrities have had conservatorships?

Amanda Bynes, who began her career as a child actor for Nickelodeon, also was in a conservatorship for her childhood and into her adult years. 

Bynes' mother, Lynn, was her conservator for many years. In February 2020, Bynes wanted the conservatorship to end, but the judge kept it standing. 

In March 2022, her conservatorship was terminated.

Amanda Bynes at MTV Movie Awards

Amanda Bynes' mother Lynn served as her conservator for many years. ( Jason Merritt/Getty Images / Getty Images)


Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys was also under conservatorship in the 1990s. 

Wilson was involved with a psychologist Eugene Landy. Landy became a live-in psychologist and business partner of Wilsons. Family members claimed that Landy over-medicated Wilson based on a paranoid schizophrenic diagnoses. This along with other worrisome issues caused for a conservatorship was requested by the family to separate Wilson from the troubling doctor. 

The Associated Press and Fox News' Melissa Roberto contributed to this report