The reason for a last will and testament is obvious — to ensure that your fortune or assets go to the person or party you choose. After all, you probably worked hard for what you have, and it is your right to decide who gets it. But if it is not in writing, don’t expect someone’s word that you wanted them to have something to hold any weight.
After almost 20 years, J. Howard Marshall, a Texas billionaire, finally can rest in peace along with his last will and testament. Marshall died in 1995, but was well-known not only as a Texas oil tycoon, but for his marriage at the age of 89 to Anna Nicole Smith, who was only 26 at the time. His death occurred just a year after their marriage.
His estate at the time of his death was worth $1.6 billion. Marshall’s last will and testament left the entire estate to his son. Smith, whose real name after her marriage to Marshall, was Vickie Lynn Marshall, was left nothing, although during their short marriage, he had lavished her with gifts and money.
Smith challenged the validity of the will, saying that Marshall had vowed to leave her in access of $300 million. Even though a jury found Marshall’s will was written under no undue pressure and that he was mentally stable when he wrote his will, a legal battle ensued.
Anna Nicole Smith died in 2007 from an apparent drug overdose, and her estate continued to challenge Marshall’s will and to request a sanction on his estate, which now belonged to his son.
Monday, an Orange county judge finally laid the battle to rest. He denied the request to sanction Marshall’s estate, and claimed that this case had gone on far too long. At this point, Smith’s estate was attempting to obtain $44 million dollars from the Marshall estate. The last will and testament had served its purpose.
Just as important as it is to have a will drawn up so heirs or courts will not have a guessing game when it comes to distribution of your assets, it is just as important to update your will on a regular basis, especially when family members or beneficiaries may have changed.
Source: Texas Chronicle, “Anna Nicole Smith’s estate loses bid for millions” Aug. 19, 2014