Maienschein joins forces with #FreeBritney organizers and disability rights and aging groups to introduce AB 1663, The Probate Conservatorship Reform and Supported Decision-Making Act
The world watched as Britney Spears endured a nearly 13-year battle to end her conservatorship, which was finally terminated in 2021. As the world’s most famous conservatee, Britney’s case highlighted the deep flaws in California’s probate conservatorship system and shed a light on the importance of addressing the misuse of probate conservatorships for the countless others who do not have the same worldwide platform.
Prior to my time in the California State Legislature, I witnessed firsthand how the system can be abused and misused as a clerk for a San Diego Superior Court judge overseeing the conservatorship calendar. I know the critical role that the court plays in establishing probate conservatorships, and how laws are needed to protect conservatees from abuse.
Britney Spears’ case has served as the catalyst for probate conservatorship reform. It’s time that we take action to reform the probate conservatorship system throughout all of California. It is reform that is long overdue.
That is why I am proud to introduce Assembly Bill 1663, The Probate Conservatorship Reform and Supported Decision-Making Act. My bill will prioritize less-restrictive alternatives to probate conservatorships and establish greater protections for conservatees to ensure that they maintain choice and control over their lives.
AB 1663 Background
There are two types of conservatorships in California: probate conservatorships and Lanterman Petris-Short (LPS) conservatorships. AB 1663 only makes changes within probate conservatorships.
Individuals most likely to end up in probate conservatorships are those with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and people with age-related disabilities such as dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Far too often, conservatorships are presented as the only option, despite the existence of many other alternatives, including supported decision-making (SDM). SDM allows people with disabilities to choose a trusted supporter or supporters to help them understand, evaluate, and communicate their own choices without interfering with their individual rights by avoiding unnecessary court intervention.
I’m happy to be partnering with Free Britney L.A., Disability Voices United, Disability Rights California, and Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund. AB 1663 will accomplish the following:
- Support alternative options to help people avoid entering conservatorships by establishing supported decision-making in statute.
- Create grant programs, training, and technical assistance to promote and implement supported decision-making.
- Make probate conservatorships a last resort by requiring courts to consider SDM and other alternatives first.
- Make probate conservatorships easier to end by requiring expanded periodic review of conservatorships and discussions with conservatees about whether they wish to terminate the conservatorship or make it less restrictive.
- Give conservatees choice in their lives by requiring conservators to consult with and make decisions aligned with the conservatee’s wishes or previously expressed preferences.
The broader coalition supporting AB 1663 includes California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform; California State Council on Developmental Disabilities; Coalition for Elder & Disability Rights; Disability Rights California; Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund; Disability Voices United; Free Britney L.A.; and ACLU California Action.
Links to articles:
- LA Times: “Britney Spears’ case drives California bid to limit conservatorships”
- Rolling Stone: “They helped free Britney. Now they want justice.”
- Inside California Politics: “Assemblyman Maienschein discusses AB 1663 following Britney Spears conservatorship battle”
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