Britney Spears is free, but the legal battle isn’t over yet – The Hollywood Reporter

After nearly 14 years, Britney Spears is no longer subject to conservatorship and is free to make personal and business decisions for herself for the first time since a legal settlement was established in 2008. – but the November 12 ruling in her favor ‘doesn’t mean her fight is over.

Spears and her attorney, Mathew Rosengart, have made it clear that they will investigate the abuse and financial mismanagement she alleges occurred during the administration and force her father, Jamie Spears, and others are held accountable for any wrongdoing they discover. “I will be watching to see what the next lawsuit is filed. Britney is seeking accountability for all breach and breach of fiduciary duty [such as] Benny Roshan, chairman of Greenberg Glusker’s probate and trust litigation group. “The easiest thing for her is to object to all the fees for the various agents who are asking the court for approval.”

A January 19 hearing is scheduled to address pending 12th accounting, a routine annual procedure in which courts review the costs associated with conservatorship and decide whether they should be approved. It is not a rubber stamp by any means, but probate litigators say that courts tend to respect professionals and ensure they are paid reasonable fees for the work they did.

“Their bills are all subject to court approval,” says Vatche Zetjian of Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell, an attorney specializing in estates, trusts and probate. “In general, the courts are reluctant to deny fees and create an incentive for qualified professionals to receive conservatorship.”

That said, he added, “If there is misconduct, the court can deny the charges.”

Jamie Spears, through his attorneys, vehemently denies any wrongdoing and maintains that any action he takes is within his jurisdiction as conservator. manage her legacy.

Currently, at issue are the pending post-accounting fees by the (separate) law firms representing Jamie and Lynne Spears, totaling more than $2 million, as well as the the compensation Jamie is asking for for her work as conservator of Britney’s estate. In a March 26 filing, he asked for “$16,000 monthly plus $2,000 monthly for the cost of renting office space in a secure location dedicated to Ms. Spears’ activities” for Ms. its services from November 1, 2019 to February 28, 2021.

“The trust indemnity dispute is a lightning rod for any tough feelings or,” said Matthew Kanin, an attorney at Greenspoon Marder who specializes in estate planning, trust law and probate. any hostility between the parties. “Multiple Sclerosis. Spears may have a pretty strong incentive to contest those claims and possibly even demand reimbursement of her previous charges.”

Generally, once the accounting is approved, it is nearly impossible to challenge financial decisions made during that time period, as they have been formally blessed by the courts. But Kanin noted that a September 7 appeals decision in California — one that overturned Judge Brenda Penny’s ruling in another matter — may have set off the battle to challenge its pre-2019 financials. Spears is a little less difficult. “The bar for mitigation was an obstacle, but it was much less absolute,” says Kanin. “The Court of Appeals says finality is important, but if there is evidence that the trustee misled the court, we will not let them ignore it.”

The Court of Appeals found that providing probate codes that freed defenders from claims arising from approved orders would not apply if “the order was obtained by fraud or conspiracy or by misrepresentation.” sculpt.” Furthermore, it stipulates, “a party taking further action on behalf of a conservator is not required to demonstrate that the misrepresentation was undetectable prior to an order to approve the account.”

The biggest question that remains is, now that Spears has regained control of her personal and business decisions, how far does she want to go in this fight? “She will have a first-hand opinion on how actively she pursues accounting-related matters and some of the allegations she has raised before,” says Zetjian. “Will Britney challenge the accounting and raise the surcharge issues and keep speeding ahead or try to come up with some sort of agreement to get this done and over?”

A version of this story first appeared in the November 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter. Click here to subscribe.

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