February 9, 2007, - 3:08 pm

Anna Nicole Smith Death is Like a Law School Exam

By Debbie Schlussel
I’m not concerned in the least with the Anna Nicole Smith death. And actually, I believe her kid will be a lot better off growing up with a different parent.
That said, for those of you who never went to law school, her death is one of these bizarre stories you often see on a law school exam, as I discussed on my regular Thursday appearance, yesterday, on KNZR-AM 1560 Bakersfield’s “Jaz McKay Show.”
Smith’s case would be a Trust & Estates exam. There are so many questions regarding who gets the money and various conditional answers, all of which would be the answer to the law school exam question:
1) Did she have a valid will?

That will help decide who will receive her assets and have the privilege of continuing years of lawsuits for the money of the ancient, late billionaire she married.

annanicolesmith.jpg

2) If so, who wrote the will and was she not under the influence of drugs when she signed it?

That will decide whether the will is valid and enforceable. If Howard K. Stern wrote the will, he may have had “undue influence,” and the will could be invalidated. Plus, there are huge conflict of interest issues. Ditto if she was on drugs, as she normally is.

3) Is she truly, legally married to lawyer Howard K. Stern and in what state or country (they were living in the Bahamas)?

If legally married, he will be a legal heir to her fortune (unless written out of a valid will if she had one–in which case, in some states (like Wisconsin, where I went to law school), he’d still be entitled to take a portion of her fortune as her legal husband). It will depend where they were married and on the laws at that locale whether the marriage is legal.

4) In which state or country (she was living in the Bahamas) was the will signed? In which state will her estate be filed?

That could effect whether the will is valid (different states have different laws on that).

5) In which state or country (she was living in the Bahamas) was she a citizen or legal resident?

That could effect how her estate is doled out and who is an heir, etc.

6) Who is the real father of her daughter?

The daughter is an heir (unless written out of a valid will, if there is one). If that’s the case, whoever is proven to be the father will control a lot of money as the child’s guardian and perhaps all of it if Howard K. Stern is not her legal husband or is written out of the will.
If the father of the child cannot be determined–the men claiming paternity are excluded through DNA tests and Howard K. Stern is not her legal husband–and Smith eith did not have a valid will or did not specify guardianship in a valid will, then Smith’s estranged mother would be entitled to take custody of Smith’s daughter.

7) What about Smith’s mother, who she disowned?

She’s a legal heir in most states, unless written out of a valid will, and will be entitled to a portion of the proceeds.
If the father of the child cannot be determined–the men claiming paternity are excluded through DNA tests and Howard K. Stern is not her legal husband–and Smith eith did not have a valid will or did not specify guardianship in a valid will, then Smith’s estranged mother would be entitled to take custody of Smith’s daughter.

8) What if Howard K. Stern is the legal husband, but there are questions as to the identity of the father of her daughter (as there are)?

In some states, the law prevents a judicial order for a paternity test, as the child of a legally wed couple, even if the result of an extramarital affair, is presumed to be the child of the husband, in which case–if Howard K. Stern was legally married to Smith at the time of the daughter’s birth–the child is legally the child of Stern, regardless of paternity.
In states where that is still the law, a judge may be barred by law from ordering a paternity/DNA test. And if a judge in a state where that is not the law orders a DNA test, his order will likely be unenforceable in another state, especially in a state where the law does presume that a child born to a wife within a valid marriage is presumed to be the child of her legal husband.

9) What about the fact that Smith is dead as is the octegenarian billionaire she married and his son she was fighting in court?

Her heirs and his heirs can still keep fighting and appealing for years for those billions.

10) What if Howard K. Stern is found guilty of murdering either Smith’s son or her?

Depending upon the law in the particular state, if he murdered her, he will likely be prevented from inheriting her money even if he’s a legal heir (it’s the law most places, which have “Slayer’s Rules” preventing inheritance in those cases). Even if he is accused of murder, but acquitted, a court deciding a will can still use the evidence to deny him property, though. Attorney Neil E. Hendershot has an excellent and interesting explanation of Slayer’s Rules and murder cases where they are enforced.
If he murdered her son (to eliminate a competing heir or for whatever reason), the Slayer’s Rule may still apply because the son was an heir and killing him would benefit Howard K. Stern. Or it may be a different story, and he might still get to inherit the money, depending upon state law (which in some states does not bar convicted murderers from inheriting if their victim is not the person from whom they’d inherit).
I’m not sure if there is a Slayer’s Rule in the Bahamas, so if her estate is domiciled there, that could be a whole different ballgame.

So this is going to be a very confusing and long legal battle that will provide the tabloids with plenty of years of Anna Nicole Smith fodder, regardless of the fact that she’s dead.
Who’d have thought that such a sleazy and messed-up woman could inspire such a great understanding of how trust and estate law is decided?
***
Looks like somebody was ahead of the game in trying to enable a lot of men to cash in on the Estate of Anna Nicole Smith.

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14 Responses

Ms Debbie, you said:
“The daughter is an heir (unless written out of a valid will, if there is one)”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe an infant daughter can be written out of a mother’s will.
GOOD QUESTION. YOU MAY BE RIGHT. BUT AGAIN, THAT WOULD DEPEND ON THE LAW IN THE PARTICULAR STATE. MY UNDERSTANDING IS THAT, IN GENERAL, ONE MAY INCLUDE OR SPECIFICALLY EXCLUDE ANYONE FROM A WILL, EVEN MINOR CHILDREN. HOWEVER, I MAY BE WRONG. I DO KNOW THAT IF A WILL WAS EXECUTED BEFORE THE BIRTH OF A MINOR CHILD–AND THAT WILL SPECIFICALLY EXCLUDES ALL PARTIES OTHER THAN THOSE SPECIFIED–THE WILL WILL LIKELY BE SUCCESSFULLY CHALLENGED B/C THE CHILD’S GUARDIAN/ATTORNEY CAN CONVINCINGLY ARGUE THAT THE DECEASED DID NOT INTEND TO EXCLUDE HER MINOR CHILDREN AT THE TIME OF THE MAKING OF THE WILL (AS THEY WERE NOT YET BORN OR FORESEEN). I HAVE ASKED A TRUST & ESTATES LAWYER WHO KNOWS MORE ABOUT THIS THAN ME TO SEE IF HE AGREES. AS FOR MY OTHER LEGAL POINTS, I’M QUITE SURE I’M PRETTY SOLID ON THOSE.
DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL
****
UPDATE, 02/11/07: LOOKS LIKE MY ORIGINAL LEGAL OPINION WAS CORRECT. ATTORNEY NEIL E. HENDERSHOT (HIS WEBSITE HERE: http://paelderestatefiduciary.blogspot.com), A RESPECTED TRUST & ESTATES ATTORNEY AND LAW PROFESSOR, WRITES ME THAT A MINOR CHILD CAN, INDEED, BE WRITTEN OUT OF A WILL BY THE CHILD’S PARENT(S):
“In Pennsylvania, it is my understanding that no person — other than a spouse who can take against a will while claiming an elective share — has any ‘entitlement’ to an estate interest in Pennsylvania. A minor child who is the beneficiary of an unsatisfied past support claim can assert it against the estate by a natural parent or guardian, but, presently, is not entitled to a share or to the present interest of support until majority. There are drafts of statutes circulating, but there is no consensus.
I have not made a blog entry because there has not been any development in this area since our PA appellate courts declined to create a claim for support against a deceased parent a few years ago.”
SINCE MOST STATES–WHILE HAVING VARIATIONS IN THE LAW–ARE PRETTY SIMILAR IN MANY OF THEIR LAWS REGARDING WILLS & ESTATES, I WOULD BET THIS IS THE CASE IN MOST STATES.
DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL

Dr.Dale on February 9, 2007 at 5:44 pm

I’m not concerned in the least with the Anna Nicole Smith death. And actually, I believe her kid will be a lot better off growing up with a different parent…..
Posted by Debbie
ouch,thats ruff….

Patriot8 on February 10, 2007 at 12:15 am

i can’t believe that howard stern is the father, i bet beth o won’t be to happy

PNAMARBLE on February 10, 2007 at 6:31 am

Even with all of her failings – Anna(Vickie) took complete advantage of her freedoms in the US. It is undeniable that she was a Woman among women (Deb, you’re not so bad you’re self!). My prayer is that she has found peace – God knows she had very little during her life.
A WOMAN AMONG WOMEN? PUH-LEEZE. MORE LIKE TRASH AMONG TRASH. PLEASE DO NOT MENTION ME IN THE SAME BREATH AS THIS AIRHEAD, PLASTIC SLEAZEBAG-ETTE. YUCK!
DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL

Irish Poet on February 10, 2007 at 4:01 pm

I heard this on a radio show:
Imagine if none of the men are the father of Dannie? Here’s where it gets interesting: Then who is?
Dannie = Daughter
Daniel=Son
You tell me who is the father.

KOAJaps on February 10, 2007 at 4:35 pm

Everyone involved seems pretty scummy. And I have a nagging feeling that HK Stern helped off Anna Nicole and her son on some level.

Anonymous1 on February 11, 2007 at 1:58 am

I was watching FoxNews and Greta Van Susteren starts describing ANS as very intelligent business woman and even compared her to Marilyn Monroe.
I just wanted to puke. What has happened to Americans and the MSM that they cannot tell the difference between a talented actress and a grifter.
ANS tried to steal the family fortune of an 89 year old oil man, gave birth to an methadone addicted baby, and screwed just about every man west of the Mississippi according to testimonials and everywhere she went the lawsuits flew like confetti.
This woman was nothing more than a cheap con artist, a drug addict and tried to defraud everyone she came into contact while using her sexual trysts to get her way.
Yet, the media is trying to rewrite history to make millions in her death by comparing her to Marilyn Monroe, will start selling books and endless documentaries about this cheap whore.
I am not buying into the media hype about this crook and am disgusted that people think there is anything redeeming about this woman. It used to be that society looked down on women that were Gold Diggers but now they are celebrated and even encouraged on by our Judicial System.
..and the jackals and 3 piece suits will fight endless court battles to get custody of a baby that no one knows who the father is and will only be determined by a DNA test due to the sheer number of candidates all for the quest of a stolen family fortune of an 89 year old man.
Some smart business woman.
My 2 cents.

ScottyDog on February 11, 2007 at 11:38 am

Hey ScottyDog,
Congrats – you sound just like an Islamic terrorist! Ask yourself – what triggered my misogyny? In case you haven’t looked at a calendar – it is 2007! Women enjoy sex just as much as men. Are you blind? Nicole was an extraordinary woman! It isn’t wrong to admit that.
If Nicole went to Iraq with the USO and got abducted and beheaded – I bet that would’ve put a smile on your face.
Are you also distressed with Deb’s appearances on the Howard Stern Show?
Growup ScottyDog, not all men can deliver the goods – don’t hate women because you are lousy in bed.
HUH? SCOTTY DOG IS 98% CORRECT ABOUT ANS. EXCEPT FOR ONE THING. MARILYN MONROE DID NOT HAVE ANY CLASS, EITHER. THEY WERE BOTH TALENTLESS, MESSED UP TRASHY WHORES ON DRUGS WHO WERE GOLD-DIGGERS. THE ONLY DIFFERENCE WAS THAT THE MEN MM WAS INVOLVED WITH WERE IN HIGH OFFICE AND BASEBALL. THAT’S ABOUT IT.
DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL

Irish Poet on February 11, 2007 at 2:02 pm

Debbie,
I agree with your points. Vicki took complete advantage of her US celebrity. My point with ScottyDog is simple – he’s not much of a dog.
Love ya, Debbie.

Irish Poet on February 11, 2007 at 2:55 pm

Irish Poet
I do not hate woman but I do have a problem with women or men that are nothing but con artists. A good example of a male slime ball is Kevin Federline who is trying to extort money from Britney Spears.
You then spewed the following:”
“Nicole was an extraordinary woman!”
If you truly believe that you have major problems with telling the difference between right and wrong.
I am not blind thank you very much and ANS was not a very attractive woman but looked like a freak show ala silicone. IMHO
ANS is only famous because she was able to extract the family fortune of a hard working descent man who was very vulnerable at age 89 and was conned by a cold, calculating, drug addict that was only after the family fortune.She was an invented celebrity by the MSM who act just like real life pimps.
FYI-Debbie Schlussel is an extraordinary woman and a hotty as well.
***********************************************
Debbie, You are as usual correct about Marilyn Monroe , I stand corrected.

ScottyDog on February 12, 2007 at 2:46 pm

Is it just me or could Anna Nicole pass for a relative to Nicole Brown Simpson. Some of the photos make her look like her sister. Maybe it’s the tragedy of the untimely death and the “nicole” in the names? Hmmmmm. http://images.google.com/images?q=nicole+simpson&hl=en&sa=X&oi=images&ct=title

BB on February 12, 2007 at 4:10 pm

MARILYN MONROE DID NOT HAVE ANY CLASS, EITHER. THEY WERE BOTH TALENTLESS, MESSED UP TRASHY WHORES ON DRUGS WHO WERE GOLD-DIGGERS. THE ONLY DIFFERENCE WAS THAT THE MEN MM WAS INVOLVED WITH WERE IN HIGH OFFICE AND BASEBALL. THAT’S ABOUT IT.
DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL
I wholeheartedly agree. That’s where the comparisons begin and end. I was going to say something like this in a comment, but you already did it. If you look at both of their early lifes, it is very similar, Marilyn’s was just more “hidden” because the press didn’t encourage such sordid detail then.
I always felt so bad for that 89 year old gazillionaire’s family and how she screwed them out of their rightful inheritance (both literally and figuratively…..or is it screwed her way into their inheritance :-)).
By the way (I forgot who commented on this), Howard K. Stern is not THE Howard Stern, as in the show that Deb is sometimes on…..
I’m hearing rumors that the old guy may really be the father after all, something about that she kept a semen sample to use if she wanted his baby after he died….sounds like an Internet rumor but it would be poetic justice if it were true and his family gets the little girl…..

hairymon on February 12, 2007 at 4:50 pm

If not being not being able to speak in complete sentences, having ridiculous breast implants, posing naked for all the world to see and marrying my money is the way to be an extraordinary woman in America, I will be content to be average.

Minnie Mouse on February 12, 2007 at 9:06 pm

Well, you’ll all be happy to read this link:
http://apnews.excite.com/article/20070210/D8N6K2QO0.html
Looks like her hometown has more or less disowned her, good for them!

hairymon on February 13, 2007 at 10:07 am

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