Britney Spears has been all over the headlines recently with her court case to end her father’s conservatorship over her estate. It has already sparked a huge debate about the laws surrounding conservatorship.
But what led to Britney being in this position in the first place? Conservatorship (also known sometimes as legal guardianship) is usually only granted to minors and aged individual, , so how is it an adult celebrity has been caught in this legal situation?
We’re going to look back over the case history of Britney’s conservatorship to provide a clear timeline of what happened to her.
The Complete Timeline of Britney’s Conservatorship
Since experiencing a mental health crisis over 10 years ago the famed singer has had control of her estate taken away from her. Instead, she has had court-appointed guardians managing much of her life despite maintaining a public profile in the spotlight.
This is how things events have unfolded so far for Britney:
2007: Public Breakdown
Britney Spears is seen in public behaving erratically on a number of occasions. This includes shaving her head, driving with her baby son sitting on her lap, being wheeled out of her home on a stretcher, and speaking in a British accent.
2008: The Origins of Britney’s Conservatorship
After a period of commitment in a psychiatric facility, Spears is judged by Los Angeles Superior Court to be incapable of managing her own estate.
As a result, her father Jamie Spears is named her co-guardian, along with LA lawyer Andrew Wallet. Spears senior is made responsible for Britney’s estate and physical wellbeing, while Wallet manages the singer’s financial assets.
2008 - 2019: The Appearance of Normality
Things appear to return to normality as Britney starts to perform again and appear in public as she had before. However, the conservatorship continues to be renewed in private leaving Spears with little control over her life choices.
January - March 2019: Conservatorship in Crisis
In January 2019 Britney Spears suddenly cancels a show in Las Vegas citing the ill health of her father who was hospitalized the previous November. In March of the same year, Andrew Wallet resigns from his position as co-guardian.
April - September 2019: The “Free Britney” Movement Gains Momentum
Britney Spears checks into a mental health facility for 30 days and rumors start publically circulating that the singer is subject to conservatorship against her will.
This leads to the hashtag #FreeBritney trending across social media. The campaign was originally started by fans in 2009 but gains greater notoriety as a result of the recent developments.
After a court hearing extending the conservatorship in May 2019, it is reported that Spears had asked the judge to end the guardianship.
Later in September 2019, Jamie Spears who is now Britney’s sole guardian asked to temporarily step aside from his guardianship duties. This was granted over her personal affairs but not her financial assets.
February - June 2021: Framing Britney Spears Documentary and Court Trial
After her conservatorship was extended multiple times in 2020, the singer’s legal situation reenters public debate after the release of the documentary Framing Britney Spears.
In June 2021, the singer appears in court and publically denounces the conservatorship for the first time in person by making a direct plea to the judge to remove her father from his position.
It is also revealed that Britney’s sister Jamie Lynn Spears had been made a trustee to the singer’s estate.
The judge would ultimately deny Britney’s request to remove her father as a guardian. However, Bessemer Trust, a wealth management company was also appointed as the singer’s co-guardian.
July 6, 2021: More Resignations
In early July it was reported by CNN that the trust had requested to resign from the position of co-conservator. They claimed this was due to “changed circumstances” following Britney’s outspoken comments against the conservatorship arrangement.
This resignation is later followed by her Manager of 25 years, Larry Rudolph and also her court appointed lawyer for the last 13 years, Samuel Ingham. The latter due to Spears’s express desire to choose her own lawyer.
July 14 2021: Britney Is Allowed to Choose Her Own Lawyer
The request to select her own legal counsel is subsequently granted by Judge Penny of Los Angeles Superior Court on the 14th July 2021. Consequently, Spears opts to hire Mathew Rosengart, who joins his client in making a public call for Jamie Spears to resign from the conservatorship.
Spears herself makes a passionate appeal to the judge in court to end the conservatorship, claiming, “If this is not abuse, I don’t know what is”.
July 23 2021: Britney’s Legal Team Officially Requests to Replace Jamie Spears
Britney’s legal team officially files a petition for Jamie Spears to be removed as Britney’s conservator.
Mathew Rosengart, Britney’s lawyer, refers to the arrangement as a “Kafkaesque nightmare” in court papers and requests the appointment of accountant Jason Rubin to manage the singer’s estate instead. It is said that Britney has selected Rubin herself.
The matter is to be examined further in a scheduled hearing on September 29. In this hearing, the petition to remove Mr Spears from his daughter’s conservatorship will be assessed.
Rubin has been chosen as the conservator candidate partially due to his background in handling large and complicated trust portfolios, such as Spears’s. He has also managed numerous cases which have involved exploitation of conservatees before his appointment.
Spears’s estate is currently documented as having non-cash assets worth over $57 million. This is in addition to cash assets of $2.7 million.
The Britney Spears case demonstrates the importance of having an estate plan and the ability to choose who can manage your affairs. Most people, fortunately, aren’t put in the same position as Britney at such a young age. However, in later life, this is a situation that can often arise.
Legal processes such as conservatorship and power of attorney can grant a lot of external control over your life. However, having a clear estate plan can help ensure you have a lot more choice over who manages your affairs if an agent needs to be appointed on your behalf.
Important Facts About The Britney Spears Case
There are a lot of facts at play in this specific case that are crucial to understanding what has happened to the singer. These are explained below.
What Happened to Britney Spears?
Britney Spears experienced a breakdown in her mental health in 2008 after years of being in the public eye.
As a result, her father and an attorney were appointed as co-conservators over her personal and financial affairs. This continued until 2019 when Andrew Wallet the lawyer appointed to manage her financial affairs stepped down. This left her father as her sole guardian.
However, in the last 2 years, the singer has made it clear that she wishes for the conservatorship to end and for her father to step down from his role as guardian.
Why Does Britney Spears Need Conservatorship?
It was argued at the time of the original conservatorship in 2008 that Britney Spears needed guardianship to help manage her vast estate and improve her mental health. This was formalized the same year by LA County Superior Court.
However, this legal situation has not changed over the last 10 years and the singer still has a legally required guardian making decisions for her. This has led to questions about whether the singer is being exploited by the arrangement in which she has continued to work and perform publically for much of that time.
How Much is Britney Spears Worth?
Britney Spears’s estate is valued at around $60 million which has been earned by her singing career, public performances, and other ventures. Much of this is held in investments and real estate as well as cash.
How Old is Britney Spears? And her kids?
Britney Spears was born in 1981. She first came to fame aged 17 when her 1999 single Baby One More Time experienced huge chart success.
However, at age 27 she suffered mental health problems and a conservatorship was created for her. As of 2021, the 39-year-old Spears remains under this legal protection although has publicly objected to its continued use.
Britney Spears has 2 children with her former husband Kevin Federline. Her first son Sean was born in 2005 and her youngest son Jayden was born in 2006. The two currently live with their father.