arrangement is voluntary.
The conservatorship — known in other states as a legal guardianship — has been in place since 2008 and dictates every move in the "...Baby One More Time” singer’s personal and professional life. But in a filing in Los Angeles Superior Court, the 38-year-old said that she wants to keep it in place and use her right to nominate a person or company to oversee her estate.
“This is a voluntary conservatorship. Conservatee wishes to exercise her right to nominate a conservator of the estate...,” her attorney, Samuel Ingham III, wrote in a Monday filing obtained by The Times.
The two-part conservatorship was meant to safeguard her person and her estate after her public unraveling in 2008. But its protracted nature has garnered interest and grown increasingly heated in the past year as the rampant, fan-fueled #FreeBritney movement has gained steam.
Last month, the singer’s court-appointed attorney filed documents stating that Spears didn’t want her father James “Jamie” Spears to operate as the sole conservator of her person or estate.
In the Monday filing, she made good on that declaration and sought to put the financial management company, Bessemer Trust, in charge of her estate. The company would oversee Spears’ finances and control the power of attorney for her medical health decisions and musical career.
She also wants the trust to have “the power and authorization to pursue opportunities related to professional commitments and activities including but not limited to performing, recording, videos, tours, TV shows, and other similar activities as long as they are approved by the conservator of the person and the Conservatee’s medical team.”
Her attorney and attorneys for her mother Lynne Spears submitted probate court documents that checked a box stating that Spears is “substantially unable to manage his or her financial resources or to resist fraud or undue influence.” That’s also where her attorney noted that the conservatorship is voluntary.
Ingham checked another box stating that Spears does not have a developmental disability as defined by Probate Code and attached the Bessemer Trust nomination signed personally by Spears.
The move comes after Spears’ father filed documents to have former co-conservator Andrew M. Wallet return to the case after he resigned in 2019 — a move that did not align with the singer’s recently stated desires.
Spears this week again said that she is “strongly opposed” to her father continuing as the sole conservator of her estate and “strongly prefers” to have a qualified corporate fiduciary appointed to serve in that role.
A hearing on the matter, which Spears said she’ll attend, is scheduled for Nov. 10.
The declaration echoes that of an earlier filing in which she also stated that she wants to stop performing. In January 2019, she abruptly canceled her “Britney: Domination” residency in Las Vegas before it even began, then checked into a mental health facility after revealing her father was sick. She has not performed live since 2018.
“We are now at a point where the conservatorship must be changed substantially in order to reflect the major changes in her current lifestyle and her stated wishes,” Ingham wrote in last month’s documents
Despite rampant speculation and a viral campaign to release Britney Spears from her complicated conservatorship, the pop star told a court this week that the decades-long arrangement is voluntary.
The singer has lived under a complex court arrangement since 2008, but in a new filing, her lawyer says the singer no longer wants her father in charge.
Since her infamous public breakdowns more than a decade ago, the pop singer Britney Spears has lived in California under a court-approved conservatorship, a complex legal arrangement meant to oversee her personal well-being and finances.
Steered largely by the singer’s father, James Spears, the conservatorship has functioned mostly out of public view, though fans and even some family members have intermittently worried aloud about the control exerted over Spears, 38, and her fortune, leading to repeated pleas and protests under the #FreeBritney banner.
Still, the singer herself has rarely commented on the arrangement, and has made little effort through her court-appointed lawyer to alter the structure of the conservatorship. That changed this week when the lawyer Samuel D. Ingham III submitted a filing Monday in which he said Spears now believes the conservatorship “must be changed substantially in order to reflect the major changes in her current lifestyle and her stated wishes.” (The filing was first reported by The Blast.)
Among those shifts, according to Ingham, was Spears’s “desire not to perform at this time,” following a four-year Las Vegas residency that ended in late 2017, and a one-off appearance the next year. In January 2019, the singer announced “an indefinite work hiatus,” canceling her next scheduled concert residency, citing the health of her father, who had suffered a ruptured colon.
Later that year, James Spears stepped back from his role as Spears’s personal conservator — a role he held since 2008, in which he oversaw her mental health care, among other things — and was replaced on a temporary basis by Jodi Montgomery, a licensed professional conservator.
Now, Spears has decided she is “strongly opposed” to having her father return as conservator of her person or her estate, according to Ingham’s filing, while also leaving open the possibility that she could seek to end the conservatorship entirely. “Without in any way waiving her right to seek termination of this conservatorship in the future,” the lawyer wrote, “Britney would like Ms. Montgomery’s appointment as conservator of her person to be made permanent.”
As for her financial affairs, or her estate, which James Spears has also managed since 2008, sometimes in tandem with another lawyer, “she strongly prefers to have a qualified corporate fiduciary appointed to serve in this role.”
Ingham added that he expected “any effort to achieve my client’s objectives as stated above will be aggressively contested by James,” and that Spears hoped to hire a law firm with “substantial expertise in handling contested litigation in a highly complex case such as this one.”
Ingham declined to comment on the case. Montgomery did not respond to a request for comment.
Though a conservatorship, sometimes called a guardianship, is typically used to protect the elderly, the mentally disabled or the extremely ill, Spears’s arrangement has been flexible to suit her specific needs, as per California law, Ingham said in his filing. He broke the arrangement down into three phases, calling the first “triage” — rescuing the singer “from a collapse, exploitation by predatory individuals and financial ruin” — and with the second phase covering her comeback, in which she regained “her position as a world class entertainer.” The third phase, Ingham said, would reflect Spears’s current pared-down public profile, in which her appearances have been relegated to a colorful Instagram account.
A status hearing in the case is scheduled for Wednesday in Los Angeles.
James Spears, better known as Jamie, gave a rare interview about the conservatorship earlier this month, denying fan-led allegations that the singer’s affairs were not being properly handled on his watch. “All these conspiracy theorists don’t know anything,” he told Page Six. “The world don’t have a clue. It’s up to the court of California to decide what’s best for my daughter. It’s no one else’s business.”
“I love my daughter,” he added. “But this is our business. It’s private.”
Joe Coscarelli is a culture reporter with a focus on pop music. His work seeks to pull back the curtain on how hit songs and emerging artists are discovered, made and marketed. He previously worked at New York magazine and The Village Voice. @joecoscarelli
Britney Spears says she had a transformative experience -- quite literally -- after watching the movie Big Eyes.
The 38-year-old pop star took to Instagram on Saturday (Aug. 8) to gush over her Tim Burton (her "favorite director in the whole world") and his 2014 drama about American painter Margaret Keane, whose husband took credit for her popular big-eyed portraits of children in the 1950s and '60s.
In her post, Spears first gives a short synopsis of the empowering film, which stars Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz, before segueing into a story about an eye-opening photoshoot she had after the screening.
"It was very weird the same day I watched this movie I did a mini photoshoot and look how freaking big my eyes were !!!" the singer wrote alongside the photoshoot pics. "I mean … my eyes have never been that big !!! It’s actually kinda crazy and they aren’t retouched at all … coincidence maybe ???"
Spears added that she learned an important lesson from the whole experience.
"If the power of what you see and hear can influence your life THAT much … I mean literally stay away from bad people and raise your awareness with high energy people !!!" she continued. "That’s what I learned from this … and watch Big Eyes while you’re at it !!!"
See Spears' Big Eyes Instagram post here.