Episode 31 -Surviving Toxic Families
Welcome to the top Texas Lawyers podcast. This podcast is brought to you by the law firm Abercrombie and Sanchez PLLC.
Your hosts are Bryan Abercrombie and Samuel Sanchez. Bryan has been practicing law for 18 years and his board certified that sort of legal specialization in the area of family law. Sam has been practicing for 13 years, is licensed in both Texas and Florida, and is a certified mediator. This podcast is for informational purposes only and all views are the opinion of the hosts. It's not designed to provide legal advice for your particular legal matter, and it should not replace the advice of competent counsel. Welcome. And we hope you enjoy the top Texas Lawyers podcast.
Good afternoon and welcome to the top Texas podcast, I am your host, Brian Abercrombie. With me, as always, is Mr. Sam Sanchez. How are you doing, Sam?
Yeah, the cheese to your nachos.
Yes, the creamy filling to my Oreo cookie.
I like that.
The icing to my cake. You know what I'm saying?
The straw that stirs the drink of our little law practice. But anyway, so we are going to talk today about crazy families. Everybody's got one. Everybody's got the crazy uncle. The crazy aunt. No, just kidding. But we are going to talk about crazy families and some of the legal issues that come up when you're dealing with crazy families. But I guess what kind of sparked our interest in doing this? We recently watched the interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with Oprah Winfrey. I mean, I know a lot of people saw that. And I think that was a interesting look at the dynamics of a family, a very, very, very well known family, a very famous and very powerful family across the pond. And then, I don't know, do you like Britney Spears?
Who didn't like Britney, you know, like the hit me baby, you know?
Right. Well, baby, one more time, Britney Bitch.
A documentary I recently watched my wife turn me on to about Britney Spears and the and the guardianship that's been in place for Britney Spears for a number of years out there in California. And it's a fascinating you know, obviously I'm not a lawyer in California and neither are you. But it's just a fascinating look at conservatorships in California and an especially a conservatorship over a famous person and how Britney may be at odds with her dad on, you know, on this conservatorship, where the dad is in control. It was a fascinating look at how the conservatorship came about and how long it's been allowed to be in place. And it's just amazing to me how how that creates, you know, legal issues. And as I said, when I last followed up on it, I hear that that Britney may be deciding to come to Oprah for a for a tell all because apparently Britney's been pretty tight lipped about the documentary. But the documentary, a lot of people have seen it. And it's making the rounds because people Britney had that really, really famous stage show there in Vegas that she was making a killing off of. And then all of a sudden it stopped. And things are, you know, they're all, where's Britney? Where's Britney? You know, and people are kind asking questions. And she's got a whole movement to free Britney. If you're part of the free Britney movement, Sam.
But I want to I want to. I want the show back on. The pants are cool. I always remember Britney in the leather pants, kind of like the thing that there were the school girl that I went to a Catholic school. Girls. Yes. Yeah. You know, you're absolutely right. Look, crazy family. It's amazing to your point how the family dynamic can create all kinds of legal issues, not just civil issues, obviously criminal issues. But when you talk about entering into the probate realm, really, where you're talking conservatorship, guardianships, these are right that many people really kind of don't understand, even though they may have executed it when they went to a lawyer and paid their one hundred fifty bucks or whatever, saying, like, give me some documents in case something bad happens to me and not really understanding the full ramifications of what those releases, what those powers of attorney durable or statutory or whatever they may be, what the legal impact of those is. And you get crazy family in charge of you and then then turn around and say, like, I have this work. And so it's a good topic.
Yeah. So I mean, but like I said, I mean, it encompasses all facets. I mean, I think you're talking about everything from impacts on a custody case to conservatorship and guardianship. You're talking about criminal cases even sometimes. You know, let's start first with Harry and Meghan Markle deal. I mean, obviously, you know, if you obviously the royal family has kind of a tailored and and very tailored and very, you know, PC response to all of this stuff. So we don't know, obviously, what happened behind the scenes. But Meghan's obviously version of events is she was kind of, I guess, for lack of a better word, blindsided by, you know, all the everything that went on with the royal family that she didn't know kind of some of that stuff going in. And then things were said to her when. When she was pregnant with their first child, that, hey, this is this baby going to look different than all the other royals, you know, was going to be more not going to be obviously too dark. Yeah, this obviously has been vehemently denied by the royal family. But, you know, obviously that had an impact on her. And she was just talking about how the the life that she had to lead, you know, she couldn't be herself. She couldn't go out and do things. She had to follow certain protocols that they expected her to follow. They didn't tell her a whole lot about what was going on, which is kind of a whole dynamic of, you know, what you're marrying into. So I think as kind of Oprah put it in the book, I'm not a huge fan of Oprah, but she did put it pretty well when she was asking the questions in the book club.
You're just a fan of the book club.
Now, just that you don't just marry a person, you marry their family, too. And so that's that's kind of what she married into. And, you know, kind of how that kind of impacted everything. And obviously it had a negative impact. Is there, you know, over here in the States and no longer. And that's part of the royal official royal family.
Yeah. Not many people are going to marry into a family that does have nondisclosure agreements at the onset before you even complete your nuptials.
Absolutely. And she's stored up the we're get married anyway and say what I want. I'm like, OK, whatever you say. But no, really, one of the things that makes that situation so unique is that the legal constraints that they can place on you as an individual from the family. Now, there are plenty of families that have generational wealth. These are people who there may not even be the Rockefeller. They could just be plastic surgeons or children, whatever, but they're very powerful families, very affluent families throughout this country, throughout the state that have that kind of desire, the desire to kind of control the image, the kind of control. Well, and the way they do that is really through legal execution. Right. So can you contract to do certain things that your family says you have to do, even though you're not a part of that family, you're married into it? Absolutely. Absolutely. You can contract to do pretty much anything that doesn't violate criminal law in most states. So when you talk about setting up those types of parameters, I'm not necessarily encouraging every family to run out, every patriarch, matriarch to go, OK, now here's here's the house rules. Let's codify those in a legal document and have everybody execute them before they enter the family.
But there are some situations where if you do come from a high profile family, we've obviously represented a few high profile people, athletes and the like. You know, you want to you want to be able to control the destiny of what could have potentially affect, you know, what's making you money, whether it be a persona, whether it be a business, whether it be a brand image. And a lot of times it's going to take that kind of document, that kind of legal execution. And the frustration is that I feel I feel Megan's pain in that situation because I find it hard to believe that she stepped into that blindsided. Like, I'm pretty sure she was a star. She had lawyers, she had lawyers. It's not like she didn't want his mom. And all the damage that happened from the paparazzi chasing her when she passed all the legal implications. It's brother going through suits against papers there in Britain, you know, and so, like knowing that that was kind of the situation, I find it hard to believe that she came in and was coldcocked. But it's legal. I did find it interesting.
I did find it interesting that she retained her US citizenship. I think maybe she thought there was might have been a couple of red flags in that, because if she was going to be a royal and a member of the royal family and marry the prince, you know, to me that would mean, OK, I've got to become a British subject. You know, she did maintain her US citizenship and everything like that. So my guess is that she maybe sort of saw some red flags or saw something she wasn't completely kosher with or whatever. But I mean, all the speculation on my part.
But she makes me think it's more likely that Harry, I just want it out. Like, honestly, this was the wild child of the royal family. He was like, I ain't ever going to be a prince. I'm second in line. My older brother is going to get it. I want a party. I want it to fail. I want to do what I want to do.
I think he like fourteenth in line or something. I want to say, because it goes through William's side of the family and his kids. And, you know, I think he's I think he's way down the pecking order.
So I think he was just kind of like, just let me loose, just let me live my life. And they were like, no, see, I like being a part of this group and getting, you know, being on the royalty. It means that you're going to comply. And I think Megan was kind of like an influence. It said, like, I've never had to live this way and it's stupid
And I don't have to comply. I got my own I got my own family. I've got my own family, the modern world that my own career. I don't want to frickin put up with this old lady, tell me what to do and
Or the old lady surrogates.
Right. Right. And so, you know, I feel like. Those kind of constraints obviously have led to them
Well I watched The Crown. I know what's up, right?
Yeah, who doesn't? But yeah, I mean, the legal documentation, the legal restrictions that can be put in place to kind of curtail activity, to curtail personal freedoms, to curtail your ability to discuss family matters. Now, that's one of the things I would tell you. I represented a very affluent international family. And I do recall that part of a prenuptial agreement that we did did have a nondisclosure about not only what transpired between husband and wife, but what transpired between husbands, family and wife, husband, family. And his family was kind of big manufacturing in Mexico, but he was a US citizen and they were living in the states. And so there was just a lot of like he was like, you're not going to talk about any of the family business, trade secrets, whatever that may be. And so there may be that type of situation as well as you run into.
Yeah, I represented a family one time or my old boss did when I first started practicing law. And this this particular family started one of the biggest airlines in the world. And this this thing had a family trust. And there were all sorts of parameters and and rules to follow within this family trust in order to get your payout. And we represented one of the beneficiaries. And it was a it was a pretty strict. And now that brings up a good point. It's like a lot of these very, very well-to-do families have family trusts. So if you're marrying into if you're marrying into a fortune, you may not be necessarily marrying into the fortune. You may just be marrying the person. The individual the family trust may control everything. And they get a certain amount of payout from the family trust every year. And you're not going to ever become part of the, you know, whatever conglomerate fortune there is.
You're just not going to be a Vanderbilt dammit. Right?
Right. You're not going to be a Hilton or whatever, because there's all these you know, there's there's a family, family trust in place and they lock that money down within the IRS for lack of a better word, within the bloodline, so to speak, in the end. And the people that marry into the family, obviously, they get you know, they get what the spouse gets and things like that, or they get in that that arena, but they don't necessarily get to the whole fortune. So and like you said, there could be there could be all sorts of rules and strings attached to that money. And you might have to conform yourself a certain way. And if you didn't sign up for that, I mean, you know, that's that's something that really probably has to be discussed at least before marriage, right?
Absolutely. I tell clients all the time you come in and they want to control will I call it a dead man fan? Right. You want to control wealth from the grave, you're gone, but you're still pulling the strings. And you can do that. You can set up a trust. You can do it through a will. You can do it through the combination thereof and how you can how you set up and establish your assets. You can say, hey, these are the things that I want my family to do or not do. And as long as they're compliant, then the money will continue to rain down. But the second that they're not, then it's gone. It's like water in the desert. It just evaporates.
And that's what I kind of that's what I kind of took away from the the Meghan Markle and Prince Harry interview. Was that OK? Once you're not once you officially want to step out of the royal family limelight and take a step back, then money stops because you're no longer part of the royal family. You're not going to accept the responsibilities of going to the ribbon cuttings and the speeches and the charity events and all that kind of stuff and represent the family. Then you're you're out the door. And so basically Prince Harry gets cut off and, you know, the only money he has left is what he gets from, I guess, what he got from his mother's estate.
Yeah, that which is obviously I mean, her estate was fairly substantial. So he's not hurting for money. But I did see that he took a job. So was like, well, it's got to be weird for him and fight and stuff. He's he's kind of a worker bee. So it seems like the most realistic. And honestly, I think what I got most out of that interview that I've never seen before, at least I'm not a big royal watcher. But watching that interview, he was very candid. I mean, in a way that I really don't see most celebrities or especially like royal family members, you talk about emotional vulnerability, emotional issues, financial issues, the impact of like in our family relations. It really was very intriguing to kind of watch and say, like, wow, this guy is definitely
Different from the English stiff upper lip, right? Yeah. They always talk about
Yeah, he's like, I'm an American now, so we can screw that up.
Ok, so that covers that. But I guess the point being that if you marry into someone's family, you kind of you kind of take on some of the rules and the customs of that family, and sometimes they can be pretty severe and sometimes they can be. Sometimes the most families are laid back. But, you know, that's you're not just marrying the individual. You're marrying into that family.
Absolutely correct, and it's not just royalty, right, it can be married into like a very devout Muslim family. They could be married, it could be tied into religion. It could be tied into business. Like I said, you know, that would trade secrets. There's a there's a myriad of things that potentially could put those restrictions. And what I would encourage clients, people, listeners to do is if you're presented with that situation, you love this person. First off, you really got to decide, like, if it's love, then screw the money. That's what I'm going to tell. But if you look at it and you say, well, yeah, I love them, but I don't want to put myself in a disadvantage later on should something happen. And then I have forgone all this stuff for my family, my children, because now we have children together. What does that mean? So I'd really encourage you to see competent counsel, have somebody really who does that type of law, review that document before you go and execute it. It doesn't mean you can't marry that person. It may just mean that you're going to have a contract negotiation. Right, because the foundation of marriage, civil law, contract law, you're going to have some negotiation before you execute anything so that they know, hey, you know what? Yeah, I'm absolutely in. It's not that I don't love him, but the business side of me is saying, like, we're having a business conversation over here that doesn't have anything to do with me loving your son or daughter.
Exactly. Yeah. And I agree with you. I couldn't agree with you more on that. I mean, especially nowadays when there's, you know, like you talked about. I mean, sometimes there's people are marrying more and more these days across religions and across maybe sexual orientations and things like that for so many different things that could potentially trip up a family that brings out inner prejudices or whatever. And so it's really something that you you have to look at and have that conversation with your with your spouse or your future spouse about, hey, you know, I had a I had a client one time whose family was Jewish and you married a Muslim woman. And that created a huge rift in the family for years that they finally they finally were able to get patched up. But I mean, that's a some parts of the world that's that's very, very, very, very, very frowned upon for Irish Protestant.
I mean, the Catholic family, they're like, no, that's not having it. I mean, it just runs the gamut. So you're right. It can be a whole myriad of things.
I mean, people are people generally, if they're going to find that they're going to not like you for some reason, they're probably going to not like you for some reason. But but I mean, I think it's important to have those conversations about, OK, what's your family like? You are. You are. I'm not saying that should be an impediment to marrying, like you said, if if it's love, it's love. But you shouldn't maybe shouldn't be, but at least should be a discussion. So you know what you're dealing with. Everybody's got a crazy family. There's always some something crazy going on in every family. There's words under every rug. So you know
What it's like we tell clients, Brian, right. So you tell them like, hey, you never planned to be divorced when you're you're in love and it's new and it's fresh and you're like, hey, I'm going to marry this person and it's forever. But statistically, that is a very rare situation. It just hurts. And so you should at least go in if you're going to have to execute something legally with eyes wide open.
Definitely. So let's talk a little bit about our
Our favorite rest of the crazy family,
Our favorite pop star of yours and mine
First, first and foremost, watching that that documentary, I got to tell you, like, it really made me feel extremely sad that an individual as talented as Britney Spears or any individual really serve it in this instance. We're talking about her that talented. All of a sudden it's over and I love it. I love it says, hey, you know what? I'm going to turn over my free will, like I am now an indentured servant, because that's what she was and is essentially they were like, yeah, you keep working and making millions. But don't worry, sweetie, we'll make all the decisions for you. You not to pay a bill, but you can't spend it how you want to. You can ask me and I'll tell you if you can spin it that way. So it is really an interesting dichotomy when you talk about guardianships. I guess let's lay that foundation. So, you know, when you talk about a guardianship, what is the purpose of the guardianship? Typically, when do you get them right? It revolves around capacity, an individual's ability to provide or make decisions for themselves. Right. So if you get in a situation, whether it's emotionally or physically, you can get a guardianship. So let's say someone is incapacitated. They're in a car accident now. They're immobilized. So they can't go get groceries. They can't do banking or even if you're online now, may be able to do it that way. But you just lack the ability to do that. You need somebody to help, somebody who has legal authority to sign your name, to pay your bills, to do the kinds of things that you need done. It can be tremendously helpful.
And I think it's important to differentiate between guardianship of the person and the guardianship of the estate. So guardianship where the person is typically, OK, I'm going to decide what you're going to where I'm going to decide what kind of medical care you get. I'm going to decide where you live. I'm going to decide what you what your three square meals a day are going to decide if you get if you have to take a multivitamin, any number of different decisions of the person that need to be made a guardianship of the estate. You're talking about any financial transactions. Can I sell your house? Can I sell your car? Can I take. Can I invest your money in a way that I the way that I see fit? And that's kind of I think that's probably the biggest deal with the with the Britney Spears case, is that it's a guardianship of the estate. And we're talking about an estate that's worth in excess of 60 million dollars. So you're talking about rights to music. You're talking about money made from stage shows. I mean, she was making somewhere in the neighborhood of, what, fifty two thousand dollars a show or something in Vegas or so. I mean, this is insane that marketing
Dollars a year or something like
It was just an insane number and. You know, like you said, I mean, this thing, what strikes me as extremely odd about the whole thing is like she literally can't decide if she wants to go travel to Hawaii and spend a weekend at the Four Seasons. I can say, no, she can't. She's got the money. She's got the ability to travel. She's obviously healthy in terms of, like, physically healthy. She's able to travel. Now, the only thing that struck me as a little cautious about the about this thing is I saw one of the lawyer, the lawyer that wanted to represent her. I was interviewed and he went to the court to petition to represent her. And the judge said, I'm not going to let you represent her because I don't think she has capacity to hire you. So and he was relying on a report that to my to my understanding or to the best of my knowledge in the documentary, that that report was was published, which are not published, but reported to the court 10 years ago. I don't know if it's been updated. I don't know if she's had further mental evaluation. She's been under this conservatorship for years. And then, yeah, I mean, if you read the tabloids, I would think she was pretty out of control with the custody issue with her with her sons and her ex-husband in the divorce and everything at that time. And maybe that was necessary at the time. But then you have to talk about when is the time to review that? When is there a time for at least restrictive alternative? Is she capable of doing some of the stuff?
I mean, yeah. I mean, is that the part that got me was OK, so I can't tell you how many times I've represented individuals who lose their frickin mind through a divorce. They lose a freakin mind. They they stop being the person that everybody knows them because they're in this emotional tumult that they can't freaking see their way out of until we get them to the end. And then all of a sudden they wake up and it's like, oh, my God, I'm the person that I was before. And so the fact that they went in and were able to get a guardianship and trust me, she cheated some crazy shit. Let's just be honest. I mean, she did some crazy shit, but did it warrant what they they did legally to her? Maybe. Maybe not. I'm not there.
But I think they have some allegations that she was getting some somebody was she was going to maybe potentially get fleeced by somebody that some some manager came in and wanted to take over.
And that's like every star in Hollywood, like, how many times do we hear of their business manager ran off with millions of dollars? They don't get a frickin conservatorship on them. I'm saying like, it's that that that part of the documentary really just kind of got under my skin because I was, like, freaking let her go, let her do what she does. And if she makes a mistake of colossal failure of it, guess what? She's like every other person on the planet. If she's sentient, if she has capacity. And I agree with you, when the judge said, hey, I'm not going to let this attorney represent you because I don't believe she has the capacity to enter into a contract, but she has the capacity to go out, perform nightly
And millions of dollars. What the hell? Sell products that endorse products, commercials.
Yeah, like she can work her ass off. She's got capacity to do that, but she doesn't have capacity to spend her own money. That's the bullshit in my opinion. But hey, I'm not.
Which I think is basically, you know, basically I think from from what I gathered, the her position on it now is if if I don't have control, I ain't doing it so good for her. Good. And I need to see that enough money.
Yeah. To sit on her ass and just do like Instagram videos and just be like, hey, I'm crazy over here.
I mean, look at all about that. I mean, yeah, let's talk about Instagram videos or Twitter videos or what have you. I mean, technically a guardian can lock that stuff down for you. I mean, literally, you don't have rights. It restrains your ability to do things. So from what I gather from the documentary, they they really keep a tight circle on her in terms of interviews. She can give you Twitter posts or Facebook posts or Instagram posts that she can put out there. And there's a really tight leash on her. And my concern about this whole thing is the self-serving nature of it all. So you've got Dad, who's the conservator who's getting paid. His lawyer is getting paid well, getting paid by the same person, Britney's turn money. And then you've got to pay lawyers, Britney's dad,
Lawyer, the ad litem or conservator, her dad and her own lawyer and her
Dad, everybody in the court apparently to get a percentage of some of the some of the stuff that she does, which to me is, you know, that's really, really, really, really sketchy, if you ask me. I mean, like I said, I haven't reviewed all the legal documents in that thing. But just from like you like you said, she's able to go out to commercials, work her ass off, but she can't manage her own affairs,
You know, give me a break. Well, like, I guess let's talk about the legal implications of the two parts. Right. So there's all kinds of legal documents that you can execute, at least in the state of Texas, in Florida, that would give you legal legal authority to make decisions for other people. And these can happen at different times. So let's just talk about like a power of attorney, right? People hear all this and they'll say like, well, what does that mean? Technically, like I, I put it I put my son on it. OK, well, your son can go to the bank and make withdrawals from your bank account. He can buy cars, you can sell property, he can open credit cards. He can do all those as if you were you. That's the power of attorney means they have the ability of legal rights that you have to make decisions financially with your estate, with your money, with your credit, whatever it may be, or even if we go flip it. Now, we're talking about a medical power of attorney that's over your person. OK, so what does that when does that come into play with you? If they want to call into question your capacity, let's say a lot of individuals, when they start suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia, early onset of that, they'll come in, they'll talk to us and say, hey, we want these types of documents in case I get to the point where I can't make these decisions for myself.
But that's a very complicated situation. So if you have that, when you step in and what does it be? Does it mean that you choose their doctor for them? Yeah, you could you could change doctors. You could change treatment. If somebody comes in and says, hey, you've got aggressive cancer, we can do chemo, we can do surgery, it's a 50 50 shot. What do you want to do? The person who's standing there who lacks capacity no longer makes a decision. The person with the piece of paper comes in and says, I like this one better, which may not be the course of action that you would have done if you were thinking at that time, or maybe you still are and you dispute that, like
Where we see the biggest, you know, in your experience, at least in our experience, I think where we see the biggest problems in the states are not when the person dies, they're not stealing money out of the state. When the person dies, it's when they get that power of attorney over somebody's finances. And this this wayward son who is I've been on drugs or whatever for years and years, all of a sudden shows back up, you know, ten months before grandma dies and grandma had a million in the bank, you know, whenever ten months ago. And then whenever she passes away, she gets five hundred thousand dollars left. And, you know, this wayward son has has a big lavish lifestyle. I mean, because he shows up with a power of attorney that says, oh, I've done this, this and this on grandma's money and we've seen that. I don't know how many times. I mean, the different versions of that set of facts happens all the time. So if you're going to give somebody a power of attorney to handle things and you're in the in your own capacity or make sure you know, because you can have the power of attorney become effective upon incapacity or you can have it become effective immediately when you sign one that allows somebody to become effective immediately, they can do anything they want with your money. And you have got to be very, very careful about who you put in charge of that, because, you know, I've seen many, many, many parents get fleeced by kids or different things like that because they have they have they've been granted this ability and and they use emotional things to get there like, oh, you know, I'm upset at your mom because you don't pay attention to me when I was 15 and that's carried over from my whole life. I'm blah, blah, blah. So they feel guilty and give them the power of attorney and then all of a sudden they get fleeced. So it's unfortunately a more common tale then than you might think.
Yeah, not only that, I mean but another example of when you might execute one of these is let's say you have young children and you're going to travel. A lot of times parents will execute these types of documents as they travel, if they're traveling without their family. So they may give it to not even a family member. They may say, hey, this couple, they're best friends. We're going to give you this power of attorney over our state should something happen to us while we travel. Now, obviously, we all know it's fairly safe to travel, but there are plane crashes, train wrecks, car wrecks. And so it's a wise thing to consider. But I think you absolutely need to do your homework and really contemplate what powers it is that you're giving and what parameters you want to put in place. Because the cool thing about when you do these is you can target that one, you can target them spatially. And what I mean by that is like I'm executing it today. My trip is going to be two weeks. This expires in two weeks. If I don't renew it automatically. So then your will your trust documents, whatever it may be, would kick over and take over at that point. Or you could say it's indefinite to year until I resent it. Until I come back in and I execute a new one, it's going to be in place.
Or whenever I'm incapacitated, if I'm ever incapacitated, then it never comes into power or in the play. So there's a lot of things to really think through and talk to your lawyer about as you contemplate what these are. And do I need them? Do I need them for my crazy family? I have a crazy brother who I really feel is bipolar and he is in the hospital all the time and so he's got twenty. When he's taking his meds, he's fine, but he's not on his meds. He's off the charts. And so you what can I do something. Well, you might have to go to court and do what they did to Britain, which is a campell guardianship where you go in, you file with Texas. That would be the probate court, statutory probate court. It could be a court of general jurisdiction, depending on where you're living. That you go in and you file these documents that say they lack the capacity to provide care for themselves, somebody else needs to do it. And I want to be that person. And there's some bars a lot of times to be able to do that. Usually you can't have been convicted of a felony. You're not going to have you can have been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude. And they're going to want to try to do a little bit. But it's not like it's
Normally they'll have some safeguards, will appoint an attorney for the person who's subject to the guardianship and have the investigation done and have and you have to have a doctor do an evaluation and say, yes, this person is incapacitated and these particular ways. So and typically the judge it's the judge's responsibility to find the least restrictive alternative. But sometimes that happens and sometimes that does, along with our justice system. So, yeah, now I agree. Like I said, I mean, I think the biggest thing to worry about is the amount of fraud that can take place from the time of an incapacity to the time of a death or or within a situation of these guardianships. I mean. People that are looking to defraud states typically do it under the powers of attorney or those kinds of things, because even under guardianship, we normally a guardian has some accountability to the court. They have to they have to file a report. They have to notify the court every so often and let them let the court know what's going on with the guardianship and what's the what the medical condition of the of the ward is and what the financial condition of the ward is. And typically, that's an annual report, at least in Texas. But and the power of attorney. Now, they're not typically filed with courts, and so there's no there's no accountability looking over it and no.
Yeah, and that's absolutely the thing about it, too. I mean, because there's so many variations there. So even courts kind of look at it and go when they see the document, you have a lot of free power of free will to do and delegate these rights and duties. You can do a piecemeal you can do them in total. So indefinitely.
And so and I and I and I agree with you. I think Britney was totally out of control whenever they put this in place. But has the due diligence in the subsequent years has been done to see whether she really, really still still needs this or not? I mean, she's obviously not a danger to herself. She's obviously not a danger to her kids, you know? So, you know, if she does she not know the value of a dollar? I mean, she obviously knows the value of a dollar. She she's refusing to perform and give her dad any money because she's not getting any freedom. So, you know, she obviously have a dollar.
Yeah. One, it just seemed like they really put her in a no win situation. Like they leveraged it seemed like anyway, then who the hell knows? We're all using this based on, you know, at least what I saw in the documentary, which seemed pretty reputable, but it seemed like they leveraged her desire to have possession time with her kids to her, relinquishing more control over than the estate, which is just horrendous if that is the case. I mean, and that a court wouldn't look at that and say, like, you know, that just ain't right. And I tell everybody there's a seat. Right, Meeta? I mean, that should have been a judge like this. Like that just ain't right.
Yeah, exactly. But I mean, who knows? I feel bad for I feel like if there was ever a time she obviously has a groundswell of public opinion behind her now that says, hey, at least we look at it and do it with some some open oversight because, you know, all this has been closed doors, which usually it is. I mean, everybody kind of wants to make a big deal out of that and say, like, well, they're doing this all behind closed doors and nobody knows it should be open. I was shocked the
Judge in California would do that. Of all places. California is the land in a land of crazy, right? I mean, they let anything go out there.
Yeah, but it's it just so happens that a lot of times, even in high profile cases, that's when those restrictions will be eased because there's so much public demand for information that they just kind of look at it and go, OK, well, you're not going to get all of it. You'll get some of it. We're in the normal Joe Schmoes, the Sam's and Bryans of the world. You know, the court's going to say, hey, this is closed. This is this is it may have a public setting where somebody can come in and, like, sit down if they wanted to. But most of the time, these these types of cases have confidentiality so that that type of exposure doesn't really happen because there's just like you're you're dealing financial information, you're dealing with stuff that has implications for people's estates and money and their personal potential health information, which is obviously protected as well.
So I just, like I said, just be I guess the cautionary tale of all this is we may not have Britney Spears money, but you may have some money. And, you know, I mean, you may want to protect that money as much as you can. So be be very, very conscientious about the people that you put in charge of and what powers you give them. So it's not I mean, granted, there's a lot of standard forms in Texas when it comes to powers of attorney and things like that. But you can delineate which powers you want them to have and which ones you don't want them to have. And you can you can like you said, you can delineate when you want it to be effective and for what period of time. And if let me add it, my client recently we had to we had to revoke and and the revocation of that you can revoke at any time. We had to revoke a power of attorney that he put in place in favor of his wife. That was extremely favorable to the to the wife in terms of anything she could do. She could she had control over and she could have really taken him to the cleaners on that. So we had to file a revocation of that. But, you know, like I said, it's worth talking to a competent attorney to discuss the issues and who you're going to put in charge of that stuff and and really, really have a heart to heart in terms of of what you're comfortable with.
Yeah, especially obviously money matters. But to your person, to your person, you know, we started this conversation is about crazy family. Look, everybody is a little crazy, and I know I'm crazy and I'm the craziest person in my family. So I know that there are certain things that I want and I and there's certain things that I don't want. And so is I consider these types of documents I really thought through who would be best to follow my wishes in relation to that. And how do I structure those documents to ensure that that happens? Because once you open a Pandora's box, it's very difficult, as Britney has found, it's very difficult to close it once you give up these personal liberties, individual rights and freedoms, this decision making process to someone else and a court approves it. Courts are like trains or big steamboats right there, like the Titanic. It takes a long time to turn that frickin boat around because it's established a pattern in the history and momentum and courts, like I always tell you, that the courts can be lazy. They'll follow the path of least resistance and forward when you're moving forward is the path of least resistance. Turning around is very difficult. So really think through that process. I just encourage everybody, like you did, to really spend some quality time. They could do it before you do it.
Yeah. And we talked about obviously I have to relate this back to crazy families. I mean, there's blood is important and your family is supposed to love you can't but you can't pick your family. And so sometimes they don't necessarily have their your best interests at heart. And sometimes when they're especially in situations when there's substance abuse or other external influences in the affecting that person, they may not have your best interests at heart. And you really, really, really got to look at look at your family and say, OK, you know, these are the people that I can rely on in the time of need, that these people are necessarily, you know, people that I can count on.
And you could you may love them, but you may not like them. Right. So if you don't like them, do you want them to kind of
I mean, some members of my family, I want to spend I want to spend every waking minute with some members of my family. I want to be out of there in three hours, you know, so if it's you click
On talk, it's all right. We're done. Good talking to you next year. But no, you're absolutely right. Right.
So, yeah, but like I said, I mean, everybody you marry into these families and you can't pick them. And so you you know, you love the person. And the other thing is, I've seen and you've probably seen this too many, many families being torn apart by, you know, over at some somebody in the family. He's over influential on the on the married couple, you know, whether it's a parent or whether it's a sibling or whether it's, you know, somebody just driving a wedge. And I've seen those kinds of situations, too. So where these people wouldn't be most likely wouldn't be getting a divorce. But for this interfering sister in law, that's interfering mother or father or whatever, that just wants to control every situation. And the spouse is looking at this and like, man, if you never left your daddy's house, how am I ever going to you know, how are we ever going to have our own life, our own relationship? And, you know, it's it's tragic when that happens, but it does happen. So, you know, those are conversations that because, like I said, everybody every family's got stuff. There is no there is no Beaver Cleaver family out there.
Yeah. It's a modern age, man. Everybody is. And it's like, I, I, I'll tell anybody this. And I really, truly believe it's that you want a complicated relationship introduced to things like you introduce any type of addiction and you introduce money, money. Money, money, whether it's that you don't have it or that you've got too much of it or that you want to spend it one way and somebody wants to spend it another way. Look, brother, there are plenty of things that say that money is the root of all evil. Well, it's not necessarily true because everybody loves money. But I would just tell you, like it can be without controls, without direction, without some type of supervision. Money can ruin any relationship. And power is probably the third facet of that. And so when you talk about these things with blood, right. Is we love I love my sisters and I love my little brothers. I mean, they're amazing people, but I'm not going to give my checkbook. I'm not I mean, unless I absolutely have to. And it's not that I don't love them or trust them because they're they're fantastic people. I just know that I like to do things a certain way when I want to do it. And they may not agree with that to individual people, whether we're related or not. And so you talk about that in any facet, blood, money, power. These are things that can absolutely complicate already complicated relationships because we know family is complicated. I know you're a super simple brother, but it's complicated.
We got all kinds of issues over here. I mean, there's like, you know, like you said, I mean, it's it's you really just have to have these discussions and go in there with eyes wide open because, you know, you marry into someone's family, you get what you get and you know, and then you've got to be on the lookout for individuals who might be looking to take advantage of you. And sometimes, unfortunately, those individuals are in your own family and people have let people have their own selfish interests in mind. And a lot of times.
Yeah, and you got to flip it, too, because obviously, as a good brother, a good sister, a good parent, good child, you know, you're going to look around and, you know, when your parents, your family is freaking crazy, like you're looking at them, they lack capacity. And what I'm going to encourage those individuals to do is don't shy away from it. Like if you identify it, then take measures to help protect them, protect the estate, protect their person. And if that means you have to go to court, you have to hire a lawyer, you have to go in and force them into that process like Britney was forced into it. Maybe I don't agree that she was the right person to do that, too. But maybe at the time she was. And if you're encountering that, then I would just tell our listeners, hey, then don't wait. Like, hire a lawyer, get in the court, get some relief and protections in place for that individual if you care about him, if you love them. So let's take her father as an example. If take him at his word, let's say he did all this stuff to protect her and he still is. If she really is off her rocker, she's like really having emotional issues and she's up and down. She's bipolar. She did take her medication. Who the hell knows? Then guess what? He did all the right things. Keep a multi million dollar, sixty, seventy million dollar estate for the benefit of his child, who he obviously loves and that he should be compensated. Well, anybody should be compensated. Is doing that much work. How much? Well, that's for debate. But so those are the things that I would just tell you. There's a flip side of this coin. Obviously, we're saying be careful. But on the other side, don't wait. If you see a family member who is a loved one, who's struggling through these processes and you're like, man, I just don't know that they have the capacity to be able to then help them try try to get somebody in there who can try to help them.
Yeah, absolutely. You're absolutely right. I mean, he should be if he did if he took all the right steps at the right moment and preserved, you know, an estate that was there getting taken by sharks or, you know, being swindled or being just you know, I have I have had a case one time where a family member did have to take out a guardianship because the lady literally lost her mind. And, you know, she was she had some money, but she didn't have private jet money. But she was trying to buy a private jet. You know, she was trying to get a limo, you know, and all these kinds of things, because some boyfriend that got an inner ear and wanted her to give them one of them to live this lavish lifestyle. So a family member did take out a guardianship and that situation and she was burning through twenty twenty five thousand dollars a month. And she had money, but she didn't have that kind of money. And so they were able to get that stamp down. And now she has, you know, now she has enough money to live on for the rest of her life, that she had a significant brain injury, you know, through no fault of her own and received a large settlement as a result. And unfortunately, there was a lot of grifters out there. And, you know, families, family members stepped up and became the guardian, didn't want the money, didn't want to take the money, was a very, very good person, you know, churchgoing and all that. They got even honest. They got a modest amount of money for the amount of work that they did and preserved her estate. And she would have lost it all, had had that person that stepped in. So there is like you said, there is there is some good that can come out of these things. So like you said, if you see a situation where there's a huge problem, you know, sometimes you need to step in and do the right thing.
All right. Well.
Anything else to add? No, you know, I think that that's a great topic. I think it's going to be ever evolving. I'm I'm going to pay really close attention to the hearings in relation to Britney and whether or not we get to free her and what transpires. And also now that I'm I'm intrigued by and Megan. Adventures in the states and we'll see how that goes. Looking forward to seeing how those situations evolve.
And I would just add that, I mean, as we get more baby boomers reaching the ages of retirement and and inevitably death and different things like that, you know, it's going to be up to yours and my generation being the Gen Xers of how we deal with those things. So, I mean, as our parents reach those ages and, you know, we those become things that we have to deal with and that's just going to become more and more prevalent as the as the years go by.
Yeah, I agree wholeheartedly, something that every family is going to have to deal with at some point. And how can they get a hold of you, Sam? You can reach me in Fort Worth or the Metroplex at eight one seven nine one four five four seven zero. That's directly you can reach the office at four four nine eight four four seven one eight one. Or you can obviously hit me at the website at W w w Dadaist X legal dot com.
And for me I'm down in the woodland's. I do we do all of the woodlands in Houston area. Well really we do almost anywhere in Texas, but primarily of Dallas Fort Worth and the Houston metro areas and an Austin area.
So I mean, if we want to get just in Miami
And Texas and Florida, we got that. We got some work down there as well. So my office numbers two eight one three seven four four seven four one where you can get me that two one four seven two four six, one of six or eight that actually got that call. So thank you again santhara for the time. And let me thank you
The kind of.
Thank you for listening, and we hope you enjoyed the Top Texas Lawyers Podcast. If you'd like to schedule a consultation with either Bryan or Sam, please call 1-888-981-7509. Or visit us on the web at astxlegal.com. Once again, that's astxlegal.com. Thank you very much.