What does Bobby Brown’s legal action regarding Bobbi Kristina’s estate mean?

Bobby Brown reportedly has filed for guardianship over his daughter Bobbi Kristina’s estate. What does that mean exactly?

Steve Worrall, an estate planning, probate and adoption attorney at The Manely Firm in Marietta, explained.

[FULL COVERAGE OF BOBBI KRISTINA STORY]

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First, a primer in legal terms.

“The correct terminology is guardianship over her person and conservator over finances,” Worrall said.

Filing for guardianship, in other words, would codify Bobby Brown’s legal authority to make decisions regarding her care.  A probate judge would appoint that person. Court officials said guardian filings are confidential.

Bobbi Kristina was 21 on Jan. 31 when she was found unresponsive in a bathtub and rushed to the hospital. She was first taken from her Roswell home to North Fulton Hospital. Then, after weeks at Emory University Hospital, she was moved to a long-term care facility, where she remains.

Statistically speaking, it is likely she does not have a living will in place that specifies her wishes, Worrall said. He does not have any involvement with the case but referenced data that show most adults do not have such documents in place. The younger people they are, the less likely they have filed legal paperwork contemplating scenarios such as who would be empowered to make medical decisions in the case they should become incapacitated, he said.

Attorney Steve Worrall of The Manely Firm in Marietta

Attorney Steve Worrall of The Manely Firm in Marietta

Bobbi Kristina, who is now 22, is the only child of Bobby Brown and the late Whitney Houston. Whitney’s will, on file at Fulton County Probate Court, names Bobbi Kristina as her sole heir. Her aunt and Whitney’s sister-in-law Pat Houston is executor.

Filing for guardianship or conservatorship would have no legal bearing on that legal designation, Worrall said. Assuming Bobbi Kristina did not have legal documents such as a health care directive in place, a probate judge would be tasked with deciphering who should be so empowered, using criteria such as who her closest relatives are.

“Her father would certainly be on that list,” Worrall said. “It would be appropriate for him to apply for guardianship, conservatorship or both. Once (Brown) is appointed as guardian he would have the authority to handle her person. A conservator would have the authority to make financial decisions. Certainly somebody needs to handle her financial affairs.”