Company Set to Manage Britney Spears’s Estate Asks to Withdraw

by Msnbctv news staff

The wealth management firm that was set to take over as the co-conservator of Britney Spears’s estate, alongside her father, has requested to resign from the arrangement, according to a document filed in court on Thursday, throwing her conservatorship into greater turmoil.

Bessemer Trust, a professional wealth management firm that manages more than $100 billion in assets, said in a court filing that it wanted to resign “due to changed circumstances,” citing Ms. Spears’s recent public criticisms of the conservatorship.

The firm said in its filing that it had been told that Ms. Spears’s conservatorship was voluntary and that she had consented to the company acting as co-conservator. But in a court hearing on June 23, Ms. Spears excoriated the conservatorship and demanded that it end.

“As a result of the conservatee’s testimony at the June 23 hearing, however, Petitioner has become aware that the Conservatee objects to the continuance of her Conservatorship and desires to terminate the conservatorship,” the firm said in the court filing. “Petitioner has heard the Conservatee and respects her wishes.”

If the judge approves Bessemer’s request to resign, it is unclear if Ms. Spears’s father will serve as the sole conservator of the singer’s nearly $60 million estate.

For 13 years, Ms. Spears has lived under a system that restricts her control over her life and finances. She called the conservatorship “abusive” last week at the hearing, and pleaded with the court to let her out of the arrangement without a medical evaluation.

Her court-appointed lawyer, Samuel D. Ingham III, has not yet filed a formal request to terminate the conservatorship with the court.

Ms. Spears’s father and others involved in the conservatorship have defended the arrangement and said that it rescued her from a low point, and that she could move to end it whenever she wanted. But confidential court records obtained by The New York Times showed how Ms. Spears, 39, has objected to the conservatorship for years.

In a quirk of the conservatorship system, Ms. Spears has to pay for lawyers on both sides, including those arguing against her wishes in court.

Last fall, Mr. Ingham had requested that the singer’s father, James P. Spears, be suspended as conservator of the estate immediately, claiming Ms. Spears was “afraid of her father,” but the judge declined that request.

Bessemer Trust was approved by the court at that time to be added as co-conservator of the estate. But the firm said in its court filing on Thursday that it was still “not currently authorized to act” and had not taken any action as co-conservator or received any of the assets of Ms. Spears’s estate, nor had it taken any fees.

Mr. Spears was appointed co-conservator of Ms. Spears’s estate in early 2008, alongside a lawyer, Andrew Wallet. Mr. Wallet, who in a 2018 court filing described the conservatorship as a “hybrid business model,” resigned in 2019.

The high-profile court battle over Ms. Spears’s case has put heightened public attention on the conservatorship, or guardianship, system. On Thursday, Time reported that Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bob Casey were calling for greater federal scrutiny of the system.

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