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A peak inside Britney Spears’ fight over her conservatorship

Britney Spears failed to remove her father, James Spears, from the conservatorship of her estate — but that doesn’t mean that all is lost for the 38-year-old pop icon. Yahoo Finance's Alexandra Canal shares the details.

Video Transcript


ZACK GUZMAN: Welcome back. In this week's "Fame & Fortune," we're taking a look at the Free Britney movement. If you've been tracking social media, a lot of people have been calling out attention to her current financial estate problems here, as she's trying to gain control over her estate, which is still controlled by her father, one lawyer saying that it's not potentially a big loss for the icon. Here joining us now for more on that is Yahoo Finance's Alexandra Canal. And, Ali, I mean, this has been a battle for quite some time for Britney Spears. What's going on?

ALEXANDRA CANAL: Quite some time, it's a very complicated case, a very passionate case. You mentioned the Free Britney movement. Britney fans have been behind this movement in recent years. It's gained a lot of traction on social media, supporters of this movement saying that James Spears, the father of Britney Spears, is unfairly trying to profit off his daughter and control her life through this conservatorship.

So, in August, Britney decided that she wanted to take some control, have some more public-- have some more publicity in the courts, and wanted to have her father removed as the conservator of her estate. So that case went to trial on Tuesday. A judge did not remove her father, but what she did do is she added a financial company, Bessemer Trust, to be co-conservator alongside James Spears.

And I spoke with an estates and trust attorney who practices in California, and he told me this is actually a very big win for the pop star. To have that independent firm, that-- another set of eyes on things, is incredibly important as Britney continues to battle this. The judge also left the door open for Britney's attorneys to, potentially, go back and file more petitions to either suspend James Spears or outright remove him, Britney's lawyer saying that she is afraid of her father. She said she will not perform again unless her father is taken off of that conservator agreement.

And the lawyer that I spoke with told me that this gives Britney a lot more leverage over the situation. He described it as a-- as a football game, more or less, in a sense that you don't need to get 10 yards right away to get that first down. Sometimes, you need to get three yards and five yards and then get there. He explained that this is a process that is, most likely, to continue for quite some time.

But let's take a step back here and talk about what a conservatorship actually is. Now, in the state of California, a conservatorship, also known as a legal guardianship, is when one responsible adult assumes the responsibilities of a person's finances and/or their overall well-being. Now this person is someone that is impaired in some way, either mentally, physically, someone who perhaps shows odd behavior over a long period of time.

In Britney's case, she entered this conservatorship in 2008 following her very public mental breakdown in 2007, but fans of Britney Spears say that, since that moment, she hasn't really shown any erratic behavior. In fact, many argue that she's flourished, despite all of these problems and issues that have been in her way. She had a four-year Las Vegas residency. She's released multiple-- multiple albums. She also has many different businesses, a successful fragrance line, a lingerie line. So fans think that this is unnecessary, and this is harming her in the process.

But I want to emphasize that the main issue here doesn't really seem to be the-- the presence of the conservatorship. The issue seems to be her father as the conservator. And the attorney that I spoke with told me that it's actually very common to have family members act as conservators. In fact, the courts even encourage this because there's a vested interest in that person.

But the main takeaway here is that this battle is not over yet. There is still a lot more to be done, but the courts certainly take this seriously because, at the end of the day, you're sacrificing people's civil rights and civil liberties. And I think that's why we're seeing a really big Free Britney movement right now. I have an article on this out on Yahoo Finance that really digs into the nuances of a conservatorship. So check this out because it's a very complicated process at the current moment.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, not something a lot of people have to deal with, but, then again, being a pop star also, the pressures of that, also not something that a lot of people have to deal with either, but Alexander Canal breaking that down in this week's "Fame & Fortune." Appreciate that.