Pierce Marshall and Anna Nicole Smith. Although both individuals have been deceased for at least a couple of years, their legal battle is alive and well. The 14-month marriage between elderly Texas oil billionaire J. Howard Marshall II and the former topless dancer ended with Marshall's death at the age of eighty nine. His will left all of his money to his now deceased son Pierce Marshall. Since J. Howard Marshall's death, Smith has been seeking her promised share of his estate.
Pleading her case to state and federal courts since 1995, Smith was awarded $474 million at one point by a U.S. district court, before the award was ultimately reduced to nothing. Despite the tremendous amount of wealth left in the estate, both parties refused to settle as allegations of will tampering, undue influence, and gold digging have been slung by both parties of the suit. Now, ABC News reports that the Anna Nicole Smith case is now headed back the Supreme Court for yet another review. The large inheritance would now go to Anna Nicole Smith's daughter Dannielynn Birkhead.
The issue up for review is not whether and what amount the estate of Anna Nicole Smith would inherit, but much more technical and limited in nature. The court will decide (perhaps ultimately) whether Smith's estate received a proper hearing in federal courts, and whether state probate courts were the proper venue for hearing such cases. More specifically, the court will look at whether the last few reviews of this case improperly limited the power of federal bankruptcy judges. Why does that matter? Because it was the federal bankruptcy judges that found Anna Nicole Smith was owed some form of inheritance.
Leading the charge is Howard K. Stern, the one-time boyfriend of Smith. Anna Nicole Smith died in 2007 after overdosing on perscription drugs. Stern will not only be serving as the executor of her estate on this case, but he is currently on trial stemming from allegations that he assisted in his former girlfriend's drug addition by feeding her drugs, and using false names to obtain drugs. As that case is set to go to a Los Angeles jury next week, Howard K. Stern will have time to prepare for his appearance before the Supreme Court early next year.
- Justices to again review probate dispute by Anna Nicole Smith Case (CNN)
- The Litigation-Filled Life of Anna Nicole Smith, and the Legal Aftermath of Her Demise (FindLaw's Writ)
- The End of the Battle Over Anna Nicole Smith's Late Husband's Estate: Why Her Young Daughter Likely Won't Receive Any of J. Howard Marshall's Money (FindLaw's Writ)
- Estate Planning 101 (FindLaw)
- Probate and Estate Administration (provided by Law Offices of Ralph E. Williamson)
- Probate FAQ (provided by The Prince Law Firm)