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Tabloids continue to speculate about the circumstances surrounding the January 2015 incident that led to Bobbi Kristina Brown's death six months later. There are conspiracy theories that link her death with her mother's -- Whitney Houston had died three years earlier -- and there have been questions about domestic violence.

The continuing disputes over the 22-year-old's inheritance merely added fuel to the fire. According to entertainment news outlets, a lingering rift between the Houston side of the family and Bobbi Kristina's father, Bobby Brown, expanded into full-blown hostility since the early days of her hospital stay. Her incapacity did not bring the family closer together.

The court settled the matter for a while by appointing Mr. Brown and Pat Houston, Whitney's sister-in-law, as co-guardians and neutral third-party Bedelia Hargrove as conservator. The guardians were responsible for decisions regarding Bobbi Kristina's care. The conservator was responsible for managing the young woman's estate. The guardians' duties ended when Bobbi Kristina passed away, but Hargrove's role did not change. She remains responsible for the management of the estate.

What makes the situation all the more confusing is that Bobbi Kristina's primary asset was the income from a trust that was part of her mother's estate plan. The trust named Whitney's mother, Cissy Houston, and Pat Houston as trustees. To date, that has not changed, either.

Hargrove, then, is obligated to manage an estate without access to any funds. A conservator is a fiduciary, so Hargrove is bound to manage and to protect the estate, and that includes handling the estate's debts. Her time, for example, is paid for by the estate.

Before she can obtain any funds, Hargrove must first receive Cissy's and Pat's approval. As trustees, they have a duty to manage the trust in a responsible way, and that includes monitoring outlays, including payments made to the estate at the request of the conservator.

Cissy and Pat have have continually refused to pay, according to court documents filed by Hargrove. She is suing the two women for breach of trust.

Cissy and Pat counter that the costs are unreasonable, and they will not violate their duty by paying unreasonable fees. The court's decision could be month's away, but Examiner.compoints out that the fees for conservators are set by statute.

The situation raises questions generally about the interplay of trusts and conservatorships. It also illustrates the difficulties that arise when a mother and her daughter die much too young.


RadarOnline.com, "Bobbi Kristina Brown’s Estate Sues Pat & Cissy Houston Over Unpaid Bills," Feb. 14, 2016

Examiner.com, "New Houston family feud over Bobbi Kristina, Whitney Houston estates," Ruth Houston, Feb. 17, 2016