Supreme Court to Hear Anna Nicole Smith Inheritance Case

The Supreme Court will decide whether Anna Nicole Smith’s estate should get part of the fortune that the former Playboy model, who died in 2007, sought from her late Texas oil baron husband.  Anna Nicole Smith and billionaire J. Howard Marshall married when she was 26 and he was 89.  Smith challenged Marshall’s will after he died in 1995, because it left nearly all of his $1.6 billion fortune to son E. Pierce Marshall. Smith claimed that her husband had promised her more than $300 million.  A U.S. Appeals Court in California ruled in March that Smith’s estate could get none of the $300 million that she had sought.  The younger Marshall died in 2006 and Smith died of a drug overdose in 2007. Their estates continue the battle, with Smith’s daughter, Dannielynn Birkhead, the potential beneficiary. Full article: USA Today

Smith’s claim is based on an alleged oral pledge.  J. Howard Marshall did not confirm this intention in the six wills and seven other estate planning documents, all filed in the Texas Probate Court by Marshall to ensure his asset distribution wishes are available and well documented for proper execution.  Those close to Marshall have testified that it was their understanding that Marshall was providing generously for Smith during her lifetime in lieu of making her an estate beneficiary.  If the Anna Nicole Smith team prevails in Marshall v. Marshall, this case could become one of the most influential inheritance rights cases ever.  It could set precedent that legitimate estate planning documents can be overturned based on unsubstantiated verbal claims.

The attorneys at Leeds, Morelli & Brown, P.C. have worked with a variety of families in Nassau and Suffolk counties, Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Staten Island.  For questions regarding estate planning, please contact an attorney at the Leeds Morelli & Brown P.C. law firm for a free consultation at 1-888-556-2529 or visit the firm’s website at www.lbestatelaw.com.