"Landmark Decision: Beach Boys' Brian Wilson Granted Conservatorship by Judge"

The judge approved the petition filed by Wilson's family and inner circle after the death in January of his wife, who handled most of his tasks and affairs.

"Landmark Decision: Beach Boys' Brian Wilson Granted Conservatorship by Judge"
10 May 2024, 07:20 AM
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News Update

A court ruling on Thursday determined that Beach Boys co-founder and music icon Brian Wilson is to be placed under a court-appointed conservatorship to oversee his personal and medical choices due to a diagnosed "major neurocognitive disorder."

During the hearing, Judge Gus T. May of the Los Angeles Superior Court approved the request made by Wilson's family and close associates following the passing of his wife, Melinda Ledbetter Wilson, earlier this year. She had been responsible for managing most of his daily tasks and affairs.

Judge May stated, "Based on clear and convincing evidence, I conclude that a conservatorship for his well-being is warranted." The judge noted that Wilson is agreeable to the arrangement but lacks the capacity to make crucial healthcare decisions.

As part of the ruling, May appointed two individuals who have long represented Wilson, publicist Jean Sievers and manager LeeAnn Hard, as his conservators.

No major objections were raised during the proceedings.

Additionally, two of Wilson's seven children, Carnie and Wendy Wilson of the music group Wilson Phillips, requested through their legal representative to be included in a group communication regarding their father and to be consulted on medical choices. The judge approved these requests.

The Decision Made for Wilson's Conservatorship

After a hearing on April 30, the two daughters of Wilson requested a delay in the process to resolve some issues. However, it became evident during the hearing that an agreement had been reached.

According to a doctor's statement included in the petition back in February, Wilson is suffering from a "major neurocognitive disorder," receiving medication for dementia, and is incapable of adequately caring for his own basic needs such as health, food, clothing, or shelter.

Wilson's Current Condition

Wilson is able to move around with the assistance of a walker and a caregiver, as mentioned by Cipriano. Although he maintains a good sense of self-identity, location, and time awareness, he struggles to recall the names of his children other than the two who reside with him.

Cipriano noted that Wilson's responses to inquiries were often brief and challenging to comprehend. Despite this, Cipriano expressed support for the conservatorship, primarily due to Wilson's overall agreement with the decision.

Wilson credited Ledbetter with stabilizing his famously troubled life after they met in the mid-1980s and married in 1995.

Wilson, his seven children, his caregiver, and his doctors consulted before the petition was filed, according to a family statement at the time. It said the decision was to ensure "there will be no extreme changes" and that "Brian will be able to enjoy all of his family and friends and continue to work on current projects."

Judges in California can appoint a conservator for a person, their finances — referred to as the estate — or both, as was the case with Britney Spears. Spears' case brought attention — much of it negative — to conservatorships, known in some states as guardianships, and prompted legislative changes. Wilson's case is closer to the typical traditional use of a conservatorship, which very often is installed for an older person in irreversible mental decline.

The Wilson petition did not seek a conservator of the estate because his assets are in a trust, with Hard as a trustee.

Deeply revered and acclaimed as a co-founder, producer, arranger and chief songwriter of the Beach Boys and a masterful innovator of vocal harmony, Wilson struggled with mental health and substance abuse issues that upended his career in the 1960s.

In 1988, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame welcomed him and his bandmates, which included his brothers Carl and Dennis and his cousin Mike Love, into its prestigious ranks.