Probate Battle Reaches End

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I recently had a piece run in the Daily Journal, California’s largest legal news publication, on the 9th Circuit Probate Court’s decision in the Anna Nicole Smith case.  Below is the piece which ran on April 9, 2010. After 15 years of wasteful litigation and real-life soap opera, the case of Marshall v. Marshall appears to finally be over. On March 19, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Texas probate court as the court of record, which ruled that J. Howard Marshall II provided for Anna Nicole Smith while he was alive and his will clearly left his estate to his youngest son, E. Pierce Marshall. This marked the end of a long and winding road of legal treachery on the part of the lawyers handling Anna Nicole’s estate. This case has already taken a tumultuous path of appeals and has dragged on to become one of the most over litigated cases in probate history. The case has traveled from Texas to California and all the way up to the Supreme Court and back again. Smith’s attorneys have indicated their intentions to continue with appeals. The first strategy in the playbook will be to file for an Read More …

Million dollar baby no more

As I previously noted, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that oil tycoon and businessman, J. Howard Marshall II, never intended to leave any of his inheritance to his wife of only 14 months, Vickie Lynn Marshall (aka Anna Nicole Smith).  Some argue this is a ruling against her daughter Dannielynn (and her father Larry Birkhead), when the reality is it is a blessing in disguise. After over 15 years of litigation, this case has done little more than rack up hundreds and thousands of dollars in legal fees for Dannielynn. The Ninth Circuit’s ruling essentially upheld the original Texas probate decision from 2001. After a five and a half month jury trial, the Texas probate court ruled that J. Howard Marshall II provided for Anna Nicole during his life with gifts exceeding $6 million[1] and he never intended to make her his heir. While Howard K. Stern along with his team of lawyers and publicists continue to exploit Dannielynn in this case, these legal disputes are only adding to her troubles.  As the sole heir of her mother’s estate, further appeals merely make Dannielynn liable for a battle that should not even involve her.  Dannielynn inherited her only Read More …