The Legal Beat: Britney Spears’ Conservatorship Saga

Britney Spears’ conservatorship has been back in the headlines as the release of a New York Times documentary, Framing Britney Spears, about her life, recently aired. A conservatorship is a legal proceeding where a judge appoints a responsible person or company (the “Conservator”) to care for another adult (the ”Conservatee”). The reason for appointing a conservator is because the conservatee cannot care for herself or himself and/or handle their own finances.

Zoe Brennan-Krohn, who works for the ACLU, said there are certain risks that occur as a result of a conservatorship, including “financial, physical and emotional abuse.”

Brennen-Krohn further stated:  “Even when there is no abuse, conservatorships limit a person’s ability to advocate for themselves, learn from their decisions and mistakes, and grow and develop. There is a risk in being told that your opinions, your likes and dislikes, don’t matter—it makes it harder to stand up to abuse or neglect…In any conservatorship, we would want to know that the real risks (and benefits) of both conservatorship and its alternatives have been seriously weighed.”

Spears has had her financial and personal matters under the legal conservatorship of her father  (Jamie Spears) since 2008, when she had a public breakdown and was hospitalized. On Oct. 14, 2014 a judge issued a court order that Britney had “an incapacity to consent to any form of medical treatment.”

Britney has sometimes challenged the conservatorship and her fans have even established a #freeBritney hashtag in support of her. Jamie Spears has argued that under his control, Britney’s estate, which he says was in debt, is now worth over $60 million.

Recently, Britney’s attorneys have stated that she will not perform so long as her dad is her conservator.

In September of 2019, Jamie Spears had some health problems and was temporarily replaced by Jodi Montgomery, as the licensed conservator of Britney’s person.

In August of 2020, Britney’s lawyer said she was “strongly opposed” to her dad being the sole conservator of her estate and requested that the court limit his power. Her attorney, Samuel D. Ingram III, stated that Britney “Strongly prefers to have a qualified corporate fiduciary in the role”.

In November of 2020 a judge granted her request that a financial group, Bessermer Trust, be appointed as co-conservator along with her father. Jamie’s lawyers claimed that he worked hard to help Britney to return to “good health, reunite her with her children, and revive her career.”  Britney is still trying to have her dad removed completely and leave Bessermer as the sole conservator of her estate.

Britney’s attorney, Ingram, said she is a “high functioning conservatee”: and she deserves to know what actions her father takes with regard to her estate. He also claimed that Britney is “afraid of her father” and has not spoken to him in a long time.

In March of 2021 Britney requested that Montgomery become the permanent conservator of her person.

The next court hearing on the case is on April 27, 2021. It will be interesting to see how this case is resolved. Will her Conservatorship just go on indefinitely?