Good “Will” Hunting

Following the death of Anna Nicole Smith, rumors have flown about whether she had a Will and, if so, what it said. Reports have been released recently that say that Smith drafted a Will that left her entire estate to her son, Daniel, who died approximately 6 months before Smith. Although the specific contents of the Will have not been released at this time, the Will purportedly contains a provision that would cut out any additional children if she bore additional children after the date that she made the Will.

At this point, it is quite unclear how that provision of the Will may apply. It will depend on whether or not Smith included a contingent provision for who would take her assets in the event that Daniel died before she did.

However, it is clear that the media has enjoyed chewing on this issue. It would be unfortunate to think that Smith’s only child, a small 6 month old baby girl, would be cut out of her entire fortune, after having lost her mother at such a young age.

The question as to the validity of the Will and what will happen with the Anna Nicole Smith estate will have to be resolved in the state in which she resided at the time of her death. That state will have the jurisdiction to determine the outcome of all of her personal property (which includes cash, stocks, investments, etc.—anything other than real estate). Inasmuch as the validity of a Will can vary from state to state, the identity of the state of Smith’s residence at the time of her death may prove to be a key to solving the puzzle that will be involved in this case.

Stay tuned as this case progresses. If Smith’s death is anything like her life, it will be an interesting story.

Who’s Your Daddy?

The biggest news item of recent days has been the death of Anna Nicole Smith. As many remember, she was engaged in a messy probate battle of the Will of her late husband J. Howard Marshall. That battled raged in the Harris County probate court for nearly 6 months, and it definitely left its mark on the Houston probate process. Now, in the wake of Smith’s death, questions have arisen about the contents of her Will, the circumstances surround her death, where she will be buried, etc.

Because Smith won her battle before the U.S. Supreme Court in her late husband’s estate, she may be entitled to receive $500 million or more from his estate. Now that Smith has died, the beneficiaries under her Will stand to inherit all of that money. Of course, reports have raged lately as to the identity of the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s only living child. Given the large amount of money at stake, the potential fathers are all fighting as hard as possible to be recognized as the father so that they not only get control of the child, but also get control of Anna Nicole’s fortune.

The Medical Examiner and the Courts in Florida have taken great pains to make sure that enough DNA samples are preserved to enable them to perform the appropriate DNA testing to determine the child’s father. This is a battle that will rage long and hard, but honestly, this is a fight that should be very easy to resolve. In a very short, one-day test, the doctors will be able to determine with 99.9% accuracy who the father was. More importantly, the doctors will also be able to rule out all of the potential fathers who actually are not the father.

It will be interesting to see how this case unfolds in the media.