What may go down in judicial history as the longest fight for an inheritance has finally come to an end in a Texas court.
A Texas judge has determined the daughter of the late centerfold /model/actress/movie star, Ana Nicole Smith, will not be the recipient of the tens of millions of dollars from the estate of E. Pierce Marshall. Smith was married to the son of the billionaire Texas oil baron for a short time.
A U.S. District judge recently determined that efforts by the child’s biological father’s legal advisors to impose sanctions against the billionaire’s estate have led nowhere.
After almost 20 years of litigation, the judge indicated he was one of the few trial observers still living, who had in addition witnessed the setting of a precedent in bankruptcy court. Advocates for the late actress and her child’s biological father could not prove the Marshall family had caused damages to award sanctions.
The story was sensationalized in the news following the death of the model due to an alleged drug overdose but also served to set a precedent in bankruptcy law.
In previous cases, bankruptcy courts had been omitted from issuing judgments of the magnitude of the Smith case. However, in 2000, a judge had awarded the late actress $475 million due to improprieties in the in the billionaire’s estate. This was later reduced to $90 million two years later.
This was later reversed since the Texas probate court’s decision took place prior to the bankruptcy case.
Legal advisors for the actress stated the billionaire’s estate got bogged down too long for sanctions to be effective. The judge stated too much time had elapsed to incorporate that argument successfully.
The billionaire’s estate has been mired in other legal woes, including the resolution of defamation of character, a long-running battle with the Internal Revenue Service and a spat with his own brother.
In the state of Texas, you have the right to marry a centerfold and leave all your money to her. But in most cases that unfold in the real world of probate court, it is in your best interests to get assistance in how to navigate the world of heirs, beneficiaries and estate planning so that after you pass into the next world, your wishes will be carried out the way you wanted them to.
Source: Forbes, “Anna Nicole Smith’s Daughter Loses Fight For Marshall Millions” Daniel Fisher, Aug. 19, 2014