While there are hundreds of thousands of probate cases each year in the United States, the Supreme Court has decided to take up the case of Anna Nicole Smith for the second time to determine if her estate should get part of the fortune from her late Texas oil baron husband.
This is the continuation of the fight between Smith and the family of Texas billionaire J. Howard Marshall, whom Smith married in 1994 when she was 26 and he was 89. He met Smith while she was a stripper.
In 2006, the Supreme Court gave Smith a victory in reversing a lower court to allow her to claim millions of dollars she said that her late husband had promised her before his death after 14 months of marriage. Here is a prior column on that case.
As discussed earlier, the Ninth Circuit ruled against Smith’s estate and decided that it could not receive any of the $300 million. The ruling again favored the estate of Pierce Marshall, the son of the Texas oil tycoon who was worth an estimated $1.6 billion. Both Pierce and Smith were longtime court rivals and both died before the matter was resolved.
Smith is survived by 4-year-old daughter, Dannielynn Birkhead who is actually the daughter of Larry Birkhead, a friend of Smiths. Both Birkhead and Smith’s former lawyer fought in court over who would be declared the father of Dannielynn.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments next year.