08 February 2007

Star Crossed

Oil multi-millionaire J. Howard Marshall II married the stripper and Playmate Anna Nicole Smith at age 89. He died at 90 in 1995.

This led to the world's most famous probate and undue influence case between Anna Nicole Smith and her stepston E. Pierce Marshall over the estate. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court which drew refined the line between bankruptcy court and probate court in the process. Smith lost the probate suit, but the bankruptcy trustee brought litigation on behalf of her bankruptcy estate alleging that the reason that there wasn't a valid will was that E. Pierce Marshall engaged in fraudulent conduct to prevent his father from making gifts to her and to prevent him from executing the Will that he wanted to establish.

The Supreme Court held that fraudulent conduct of this type isn't within the narrow court created probate exception to federal jurisdiction. The litigation isn't over, but both of the litigants in that much watched U.S. Supreme Court case are dead now. The survivors may continue the battle.

Anna Nicole Smith died today. E. Pierce Marshall died died June 20, 2006 at age 67.

Smith is survived by a 5-month-old daughter whose paternity is in dispute.

The birth certificate lists Dannielynn's father as attorney Howard K. Stern, Smith's most recent companion. Smith's ex-boyfriend Larry Birkhead was waging a legal challenge, saying he was the father.

Her elder son, Daniel Smith, died September 10, 2006.


Anonymous said...

Some small corrections. The case in bankrutpcy was brought by Anna herself, rather than the trustee. The case was also not about "why there wasn't a valid will." There was a valid will and it was probated in Texas. The bankrutpcy case was a tortious interference case, similar but different from undue influence.

Anonymous said...

One other item...

The SCOTUS refined the line between the probate jurisdiction and that of the deistrict court. They studiously avoided the exception as it relates to bankruptcy.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

The paternity case was eventually resolved in favor of Larry Birkhead.