Who should act on behalf of Britney Spears? It's an issue that's been fought over between the hospitalized singer's acting manager and parents, who called an emergency hearing Friday afternoon in Los Angeles Superior Court to try to get control over their daughter's affairs.
Jamie and Lynne Spears hope to establish a conservatorship, where they would be co-conservators along with a third independent party, so they would be able to make decisions about their daughter's health care and finances. Those close to the Spears family have said that the cause for concern and urgency in this situation is the influence of manager Sam Lufti, who reportedly has power of attorney over Britney, which her parents are said to want to dissolve.
"This is exactly what I would recommend, given Britney's mental status at the moment," mental-health law expert Carolyn Reinach Wolf told MTV News. "Maybe her mental status at the time she gave Sam Lutfi the legal documents to act on her behalf was compromised, which would void these documents."
Wolf, a senior partner at New York law firm Abrams, Fensterman, Fensterman, Eisman, Greenberg, Formato & Einiger, LLP, said that the Spears family would have to demonstrate that Spears wasn't capable of making that decision, and they would need medical or psychiatric testimony from her treating physicians or another expert who could evaluate the singer. "It seems there are health care issues as well as financial issues," Wolf said, "and really, the only way to get control of that for an adult is to demonstrate she lacked the mental capacity and get authorization to act on her behalf. Those are the only options."
When Spears signed any such paperwork authorizing Lutfi would be an issue, especially if it was in a time of crisis. "That gives them more reason to question it," Wolf said, "and to whom was she giving it to. If you've known someone for a week and you're suddenly changing your will and giving them authority over you, it can be a problem."
Lutfi has known Britney for longer than a week, of course, but there have been questions and concerns regarding his involvement with the singer, including past restraining orders against him and allegations that he has staged paparazzi shots of Britney from which he would benefit financially. (Lutfi has denied these allegations.)
Wolf also recommends that Spears get a restraining order against Lutfi, and if she can't or won't, that her parents do so on her behalf. "If her manager is not acting in her best interest and is exacerbating her psychological issues, the way she can get him to go away is to get a protective order," Wolf said. "She's very open to suggestion, very open to manipulation, very open to being put in a compromising situation right now. She needs a reduction of outside stressers, and she needs to find the right people to manage her affairs until she's well."
Spears behavior in recent months has long been a cause of concern for family and fans.
"Lynne is extremely concerned for her daughter and would like to take Britney back home to Louisiana and get her out of Hollywood," J. Michael Flanagan, one of Britney's lawyers, told PageSix.com. "Brit has an amazing support system in Louisiana. Lynne was holding up reasonably well, but her first priority and concern right now is with her daughter and helping her get through this very tough situation that she is in."