Latest developments in the ongoing Britney Spears conservatorship case reveal that the singer has won the right to sign financial paperwork and manage her $50m (£37.8m) estate.
In a hearing on Wednesday 8th December Judge Brenda Penny ruled that Spears is now free to execute her own estate documents, allowing her to manage her own finances for the first time since 2008 when the conservatorship that controlled her private and financial affairs for 13 years first came in to effect.
During the hearing, Ms Spears’ lawyer Matthew Rosengart argued: “Ms Spears, as an independent woman, not under conservatorship, should be able to execute documents herself” following allegations that Spears’ father had “planted a term” in her estate-planning documents that meant the singer had to seek a judge’s approval for any changes, keeping her “tethered to the court”.
Judge Brenda Penny suspended Spears’ father from the conservatorship in October, but maintained Ms Spears’ accountant John Zabel to oversee the singer’s financial affairs ruling that it “is in the best interest of the conservatee” for Zabel to take control. Judge Penny formally ended the conservatorship on 13th November following which Rosengart commented that new US legislation has been introduced as a result of Ms Spears’ testimony “to try to ensure that conservatorships like this… do not happen again”.
It was announced at the hearing on Wednesday that Zabel will continue his administrative duties until January 19, the date of the next hearing which is expected to address accounting matters, as well as a petition for substituted judgement which will remain under seal. Judge Penny stated that the motion is being granted “in the interest of protecting the conservatee’s right to privacy”.
All parties including Spears, her father, John Zabel and former management company Tri Star will continue to undergo hearings to agree a way forward following termination of the conservatorship.
Speaking on behalf of Britney Spears following Wednesday’s hearing Rosengart commented that Spears now “has the capacity to do whatever she wants” with respect to planning her estate as a “free, independent woman”.