What is a conservatorship and what would it mean for Amanda Bynes?

Amanda Bynes shows of cheek piercings

The word “conservatorship” has been tossed around a lot these past few weeks in relation to Amanda Bynes. In context, it’s easy to tell that a conservatorship would serve to protect the troubled former actress from blowing her money. There’s also a general understanding that a conservatorship would allow Amanda’s parents to direct her toward treatment for her suspected schizophrenia.

But, basing understanding of conservatorship entirely off of context leaves a lot of room for misconceptions. So, let’s clear it up by checking out the legal definition: According to the Superior Court of California, the state where most celebrity conservatorships are decided, the legal arrangement can be put in place when a judge rules that the conservatee cannot take care of her personal health or finances. As evidenced by a judge’s hesitation to grant Amanda’s mom a conservatorship, that threshold is pretty high.

If the conservatorship request is granted, the judge puts an individual or organizational conservator in place to make the conservatee’s decisions. That gives the conservator power over the conservatee’s health care, food, clothes, personal care, housekeeping and transportation. The conservator can also decide where conservatee will live and how her money will be managed.

Although the conservator gets a lot of power, he has a lot of responsibility. The courts build in safeguards to protect the conservatee from financial abuse. For example, the conservator must keep detailed records of his decision. The court may also require official approval before the conservator makes decisions regarding the sale or acquisition of real property.

Conservatorships are often put in place to protect aging parents or adults with disabilities. However, as the world learned in 2008, conservatorships can also be put in place for celebrities who seem to have gone off the deep end.


After months of a publicly downward spiral, Britney Spears was placed on a 5150 hold on Jan. 31, 2008. The very next day, her father and attorney were granted a temporary conservatorship by a California judge.

“It is in the best interests of the conservatee to have conservatorship over her person,” the court commissioner said of Britney’s case at the time of the ruling.

Britney reportedly fought the original decision, but had a change of heart and didn’t object to her dad’s October 2008 request to make the conservatorship arrangement permanent. Five years later, Britney’s conservatorship is still in place — and has proven to be very beneficial to the star, who has reclaimed her idol status with successful songs and her X Factor hosting gig.

Britney Spears at X Factor Season 2 auditions in Austin Texas

Amy Winehouse also volunteered for a limited conservatorship, which granted her parents full authority over her finances. Unfortunately, that arrangement was unsuccessful in rescuing Amy from her drug problems.

If Amanda’s mother is granted a conservatorship over her daughter, it would likely encompass physical and financial decisions. It’s clear that Amanda, who is still under a 5150 hold, is dealing with some serious issues. However, it’s also clear that conservatorships shouldn’t be rushed into, as the judge in charge of her case indicated.

“I need to have a dialogue with [the actress] to gauge the propriety of a conservatorship to move forward,” said Ventura County Superior Court Judge Glen M. Reiser. “There are issues of liberty and property.”

All things considered, do you think Amanda’s parents should be granted a conservatorship?

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