Since 2008, Wendy Williams has had her own nationally syndicated tv show, The Wendy Williams Show. Before television, Wendy had been working in radio since 1986. She became a highly acclaimed radio host in New York and has been inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
So how did we get here? Why is a Bank saying that a 57-year-old award-winning Broadcaster, media personality, businesswoman, writer, actress, and producer needs to be under a temporary guardianship? Didn’t social media just #freebritney from something similar? Can they do that? Yes! Not only to her but to YOU, if they feel it is necessary. We will get into that and what you can do to make sure you are prepared and protected.
Conservatorship/Guardianship is a legal term where a guardian is appointed by a judge to manage the financial affairs and/or daily life of another person because of physical or mental limitations. For context, the Free Britney Movement is a helpful way to understand these legal issues. On February 1, 2008, while Brittney Spears was held on an involuntary psychiatric hold for alleged mental health concerns. Britney was involuntarily placed under a conservatorship and her father was named one of her conservators. Initially, the conservatorship was temporary and only supposed to last a few days. Having someone to manage your financial affairs can be helpful because your bills, business, and family needs don’t stop when you are in the hospital. However, the conservatorship was later extended to months and eventually made permanent, against the objections of Brittney herself. The conservatorship lasted 13 years and took public outcries for justice to “free” Brittney.
In Wendy’s case, Wendy is said to have multiple health issues. The world watched as we saw Wendy seemingly faint on air, which prompted hiatuses from her show in 2018 and 2019, but she reassured fans that her health wasn’t a concern. Wendy hadn’t hosted her daytime talk show since July 2021 and it was announced that the show is officially coming to an end. A new talk show will take over her daytime tv time slot. Now back to the bank.
Page six reported that Wendy had recently fired her financial advisor at Wells Fargo who suspected that she was not capable of managing her financial affairs. Usually when a bank suspects the incapacity of one of their customers they have the ability to lockdown or freeze accounts. This happens most often to senior citizens because elder abuse is rampant in our country. However, in the age of fraud we live in, I know we all have probably experienced a time when a bank has locked down our account because of an odd purchase. It usually happens to me when I go on vacation and spend like I don’t have bills.
Once a bank employee suspects fraud there is a protocol they have to follow, so Wendy’s accounts were frozen and her attorney filed an emergency petition to the court to have the accounts unfrozen. That is when Wells Fargo sent the judge a letter stating that they felt Wendy should have a temporary guardian appointed to manage her financial affairs because she was an “incapacitated person” and a “victim of undue influence and financial exploitation.”
The sad part about this process is having a trusted contact and a financial power of attorney could have helped Wendy. A financial power of attorney is a legal document (usually included in your estate plan) that allows you to give your agent the power to handle financial matters on your behalf. You can have one agent or several and can even appoint backups if someone is too busy when you need them. My only recommendation is that they be financially savvy and able to advocate for you and your best interest.
Despite the fact Wendy’s attorneys insist this was all caused by a disgruntled bank employee, they are trying to get this issue resolved so quickly because they stated in her petition “if her access [to the accounts] was not restored, [Wendy] would not be able to pay her financial obligations, including her mortgages, marital settlement payment to ex-husband, and employee payroll.”
Without a financial power of attorney in place the only avenue you have is the courts and as we see it can get ugly and time-consuming. As of right now, it has likely been weeks since Wendy has been able to access her accounts, see a statement or pay her bills.
Here is a helpful list of things you can do to avoid falling into a situation like Brittney Spears or Wendy Williams:
Consider having money in more than one bank. If you are shut out of one bank you may still be able to pay bills until the issue is cleared up.
Have a financial power of attorney that can act on your behalf if you are deemed incapacitated.
Appoint a conservator in your power of attorney, that way you get to make the decision if it comes to that.
Give the bank a copy of your power of attorney document so they will have it on file. Don’t forget to update your power of attorney on file if you want to change the power you give or the person you want representing you.
Jala Eaton known as Your Wealth Bestfriend® is a seasoned personal finance writer as well as an Attorney and award-winning Certified Trust & Fiduciary Advisor (CTFA). When she is not running her businesses, teaching, or writing she enjoys dance parties in the kitchen with her daughter. Her work has appeared on, Business Insider, Experian, Real Simple, The Skimm, Yahoo News, and others.
Wikipedia: Brittney Spears
Wikipedia: Wendy Williams