Britney Spears’ conservatorship lawyer has a very mysterious past
Cheyenne Roundtree/The Daily Beast
Following Britney Spears’ heart-wrenching testimony last month, which made clear just how badly the judicial system has failed her, many questioned how a mega-famous 39-year-old woman who had a Las Vegas residency, released multiple hit albums, was an early investor in Uber, runs a billion-dollar perfume business, and was a judge on a live TV show got to a point where she was begging for a phone call with a judge to simply hear her side. Shockingly, Spears claimed she had no idea that she could request for the judge to remove her conservatorship entirely, rather than just have her father Jamie Spears replaced as conservator.
“Ma’am, I didn’t know I could petition the conservatorship to end it,” she told the court in her 24-minute address. “I’m sorry for my ignorance, but I honestly didn’t know that.” The duty to have informed her would have fallen on her court-appointed lawyer Samuel D. Ingham III, who is allowed to bill her estate up to $10,000 per week, according to court documents. He has made nearly $3 million working for Spears over the years, according to The New York Times. Ingham was appointed to Spears’ case by Judge Reva G. Goetz in 2008, although Spears had tried to retain noted trial attorney Adam Streisand to contest her father being made her conservator. “She has expressed to me very strongly that her father not be the conservator,” Streisand told Judge Reva Goetz in Feb. 2008, explaining that he had spoken with Spears over the course of two days while she was in the hospital. “There has been an estrangement for quite some time. With him as conservator, that is causing her more agitation and more distress.” Streisand had also requested for Northern Trust Bank to be named as Spears’ conservator over her estate, citing concerns that attorney Andrew Wallet did not have the experience to manage her then $40 million fortune. But Ingham, who reportedly only spoke with Spears for 15 minutes, told the judge that Spears “did not understand” the nature of the court proceedings and claimed she “lacks
the capacity to retain counsel.” Goetz sided with Ingham and deemed that Spears was not capable of hiring her own lawyer, booting Streisand from the court and leaving her with Ingham for the next 13 years. According to Ingham’s court-submitted declaration of his credentials, he has repped more than 600 conservatorship, trust, guardianship, and probate proceedings over the course of his 46-year career. The UCLA alum, who is related to former president Andrew Jackson’s U.S.
Treasury Secretary Samuel D. Ingham, runs his practice out of Ojai, California. His lackluster and sparse website declares he’s been certified by California’s state bar in estate planning, trust, and probate law. Despite a long-spanning career as one of the court’s go-to lawyers when it comes to representing some of media and entertainment’s biggest names, including Spears, radio icon Casey Kasem, and media mogul Sumner Redstone, Ingham managed to keep a low profile.
That was until he was dragged into the spotlight in 2019, when Kasem’s widow Jean Kasem accused Ingham in a wrongful death suit of conspiring with Kasem’s three adult children from a previous marriage “to isolate and kill Casey Kasem for financial gain.”
It was a messy lawsuit, with hundreds of filings, predated by earlier legal disputes over whether Kasem needed a conservatorship in the first place.
Jean, 67, had been married to Kasem for 33 years when the radio personality was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia—a form of Parkinson’s. A nasty family fight ensued between Jean and her step-children over the entertainer’s care and his estimated $80 million fortune. Jean claimed the children—whom Kasem allegedly was estranged from because they joined the Church of Scientology—“were intent on seizing control of my husband to terminate his life,” according to court documents reviewed by The Daily Beast.
In 2013, the children tried to establish a temporary conservatorship over Kasem, but a judge ruled in Jean’s favor, confirming that she was taking good care of the ailing elder. Jean later reached a confidential agreement with two of Kasem’s children on visitation arrangements, although his daughter Kerri Kasem refused the agreement.