Ever since she was placed in a conservatorship in 2008 after her very public breakdown, Spears has not had control of her life or business affairs. Since 2008 she’s released four albums, earned millions each year and performed hundreds of concerts – but in that time has not been able to drive, hire a lawyer, or control her own finances.
Her conservators, father Jamie Spears and recently care manager Jodi Montgomery, are paid for the role, with her father having also received a cut of her income from a successful Las Vegas residency in the past.
It’s an arrangement rarely spoken about by members of the Spears family – until now.
“She’s always wanted to get out of [the conservatorship],” Bryan, 43, admitted in the latest episode of the As Seen On TV podcast.
“It’s very frustrating to have. Whether someone’s coming in peace to help or coming in with an attitude, having someone constantly tell you to do something has got to be frustrating.”
Bryan said he wasn’t active enough on social media to understand the ins and outs of the #FreeBritney fan movement, but said he was aware some fans worried his sister was being “confined or held against her will in some capacity”.
He said the conservatorship has “been a great thing for our family, to this point, and [we] keep hoping for the best.”
“We kind of came together and not everybody agreed with it either; everyone had their own opinion like, maybe we should do it this way or that way,” Bryan said of the conservatorship’s origins. “But at the end I think we made the right choice.”
Bryan also described father Jamie Spears’ role as Britney’s conservator as a “sacrifice”, and said that “in general, he’s done the best he could given the situation he’s in”.
Britney’s father was back in court this week for another hearing over the terms of her conservatorship. His daughter was not present. It is believed Britney herself is keen for the arrangement to come to an end – but Bryan says he has concerns about lifting the conservatorship.
“She’s been surrounded by a team of people since she was 15, so at what level does everyone just walk away or get reduced?” he said, explaining that his sister has not had to drive a car, make reservations or carry out other “everyday tasks” since she was a teenager.
“I’m sure it’s going to be an adjustment,” he said.
In 2008, after the singer’s public breakdown involved hospitalisation and psychiatric holds, her court-appointed advocate Samuel Ingham stated that she was incapable of retaining her own counsel after meeting with her for 15 minutes.
As a result, she was placed under conservatorship, a legal concept in the US where a guardian is appointed to manage someone’s financial affairs and daily life due to physical or mental restrictions. It’s a move reserved for gravely disabled people.
Her father Jamie Spears and lawyer Andrew Wallet are completely in charge of her assets, and Jamie has dominion over everything from the legal ins and outs of every business decision she makes to the running of her house and family. He approves publicity, magazine covers, sponsorship deals and partnerships.
For this, Jamie is reimbursed financially. According to the Forbes, Jamie receives $180,000 every year for his work as conservator over Britney’s estate. A court reviews and approves other expenses, like bills and rent on an office space.
In addition, Jamie received 1.5% of the revenue from Britney’s Las Vegas residency. In 2017, that number was in excess of $139 million, a tidy $208,000.
Initially, the conservatorship focused on Britney’s immediate health. Her father had the power to prevent people from visiting her while she was hospitalised in February 2008 and became the arbitrator of her medical records and legal contracts.
But over time, the conservatorship took on more wide-reaching implications in Britney’s life. Once it became permanent, Jamie gained control over every decision impacting Britney’s physical and mental health. That means everything from signing on to a Vegas world tour to buying a cup of coffee.
According to People, the singer’s “care manager” Jodi Montgomery was appointed last year as temporary conservator at Jamie’s request due to illness. He reportedly resumed the role again in January.
Britney is exploring asking the court to end the conservatorship entirely, but court dates have been delayed amid the global pandemic.
This month, Britney’s mother Lynn Spears filed legal documents to ensure she is included on decisions regarding her daughter’s finances, The Blast reports.