There's been a lot of talk about Britney Spears in the news -- not because she released a new single or pulled an outrageous stunt, but because she's embroiled in a legal battle resulting from a conservatorship that was put into place over a decade ago.
What is a conservatorship?
A conservatorship is a legal arrangement wherein a guardian is appointed to oversee another person's financial affairs. These arrangements happen when someone is deemed incapable of managing their own affairs.
Often, a conservatorship is put into place for people who have severe mental impairments or developmental disabilities. In Spears' case, the circumstances were clearly very different.
Spears wound up subject to a conservatorship after experiencing a string of mental health crises and physical health issues that temporarily may have prevented her from making smart financial decisions. At the same time, Spears has, through the years, been capable enough to not only perform but earn money, so she's been fighting her conservatorship in the hopes of regaining control of her finances and assets.
How does a conservatorship impact real estate?
Once a conservator is appointed to oversee another person's assets, that conservator gets to dictate what happens to that person's real estate holdings. Often, a conservator may seek to sell a property and use the proceeds to cover expenses related to managing an overall estate. However, a conservator must obtain court approval to move forward with the sale of a property.
Meanwhile, a conservator is responsible for the upkeep of any property that isn't sold. For example, a conservator must ensure that all property tax bills are being paid, the home is properly insured, and that all necessary maintenance and repairs are being performed. And, of course, if there's a mortgage on a property under a conservatorship, the conservator is tasked with making sure it gets paid.
Along these lines, a conservator will generally have the authority to purchase real estate as an investment, or for the benefit of the person the conservatorship has been set up to protect.
What about buying a property that's part of a conservatorship?
If a conservator gets court approval to sell a given property, buying it shouldn't pose any problems for the party on the other end of that transaction. This means that real estate investors, for example, need not shy away from properties that a conservator is overseeing.
In most cases, conservatorships are set up to protect someone who's incapable of managing their own financial affairs. In the case of Britney Spears, her father was granted control of her assets and estate during a rough patch (albeit an extremely public one), and she's been attempting to fight back ever since.
Having a conservatorship in place can add a modest layer of complication when selling a home since court approval is required, but that shouldn't impact the buyer of that property -- only the seller. As such, homebuyers and investors shouldn't spin their wheels wondering whether the property they're about to purchase is under a conservatorship or not.