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Smith's Case Continues to Prove the Importance of Estate Planning

The United States Supreme Court will be taking another look at the tangled web of allegations, intentions and documentation surrounding the estate of J. Howard Marshall and the estate of his one-time wife Anna Nicole Smith. If there were to be one case that proved the importance of comprehensive and coherent estate planning, this would be it.

When Marshall died in 1995, 14 months after marrying the 26-year-old Smith, he left most of his $1.6 billion estate to his son. Smith, to her surprise, was completely cut out of Marshall's estate plan.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, she went to court.

Claiming that Marshall had been coerced by his son to leave her out of the will, she asked for hundreds of millions of dollars from the estate. A Texas court denied her, as did the court of appeals. In 2000, she filed for bankruptcy and, this time, the bankruptcy court awarded her $474.5 million from the estate.

This was later reduced to a "mere" $89.5 million by a federal district court judge. Even then, Smith was unable to collect any money from the Marshall estate due to the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to remove a court order that barred Smith from Marshall's estate.

Smith passed away in 2008. J. Howard Marshall's son, E. Pierce Marshall, died two years earlier. Still, the battle for Marshall's estate rages on.

In late September, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to once again consider Smith's case and whether or not the Smith estate has any legitimate claim on that of the late Marshall.

Source Article

  • High Court Will Reconsider Anna Nicole Smith Case (NPR)

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