Britney Spears calls conservatorship ‘voluntary’


Britney Spears

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The star has asked for her father to be removed as her legal guardian

Britney Spears has described the conservatorship that has controlled various aspects of her life since 2008 as a “voluntary” arrangement.

The star’s statement came in a court filing in which she nominated a trust company to take over her finances.

The conservatorship means a court-appointed guardian oversees the singer’s personal and financial decisions as well as her healthcare.

The 38-year-old is currently seeking several changes to the arrangement.

Many fans have speculated she is being held against her will or stolen from, leading to a grass roots movement known as #FreeBritney.

However, the papers filed on Monday at Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday indicated that Spears wants the set-up to remain in place.

“This is a voluntary conservatorship. Conservatee wishes to exercise her right to nominate a conservator of the estate,” wrote her lawyer, Samuel Ingham III, in a filing obtained by the BBC.

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Some fans believe Britney is being exploited or held against her will – a claim which her family rejects

The arrangement has been in place since Spears’ infamous public breakdowns more than a decade ago. For most of that time her father, Jamie Spears, has acted as her legal guardian, overseeing her mental health care and other aspects of her life and career.

He stepped back last year, citing health concerns, and was replaced on a temporary basis by Jodi Montgomery, a licensed professional conservator.

The singer had made little effort to alter the terms of the arrangement before this August, when her lawyers filed papers in Los Angeles, saying the star believed the conservatorship “must be changed substantially in order to reflect the major changes in her current lifestyle and her stated wishes”.

Among those changes was a “desire not to perform at this time”, and the removal of her father as her custodian.

‘Strongly opposed’

Monday’s filing reinforced this claim by nominating Jamie Spears’ potential replacement.

“Britney is strongly opposed to her father continuing as sole conservator of her estate,” said her lawyer.

“Rather, without in any way waiving her right to seek termination of this conservatorship in the future, she strongly prefers to have a qualified corporate fiduciary appointed to serve in this role.”

The star requested that the Bessemer Trust Company, a New York-based wealth-management firm, took control of her finances – an estimated $57.4 million (£42.5 million), including about $2.7 million (£2 million) in cash, according to court documents.

The filing also stated that Spears does not have a developmental disability, and is not currently a patient of the California Department of State Hospitals or the California Department of Developmental Services.

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Britney and her father Jamie, pictured in 2006, before the conservatorship was enacted

A hearing on the conservatorship is scheduled for October. Last month, Judge Brenda Penny also extended the current version of the conservatorship until 1 February, 2021, in accordance with Spears’ wishes.

In the meantime, Jamie Spears has sought to have future proceedings in the case sealed to protect his daughter and her two children.

“Such information would undoubtedly fuel widespread publicity and the ability to obtain access to her or her children, as evidenced by the publicity surrounding this conservatorship since its inception and numerous instances of harassment,” his lawyer said.

“That publicity would be highly injurious to the Conservatee’s health and well-being, as well as the health and well-being of her minor children.”

The American Civil Liberties Union has also weighed in on the case, saying it would support Britney if she requested help in ending the conservatorship.

“People with disabilities have a right to lead self-directed lives and retain their civil rights,” the organisation said in a tweet. “If Britney Spears wants to regain her civil liberties and get out of her conservatorship, we are here to help her.”

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