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Celebrity Legacies: The Anna Nicole Smith Estate Battle

So how long exactly does it take to resolve the dispute over the estate of an 89-year old Texas oil tycoon who married a 26-year old stripper and Playboy Playmate?  Shouldn't the case end when both the stripper (Anna Nicole Smith) and her "step-son" (Pierce Marshall, who was 27 years older than she was) die?  Anna_Nicole_Smith

And is this really important enough to be heard by the United States Supreme Court, not once, but twice?

This is installment #3 of our Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts.  See other articles in the series here.

While we monitor, write about, and provide commentary for media outlets around the country about many complicated celebrity estates, this one takes the prize.  We call it "The Grand-Daddy Of All Estate Battles."  We've written several articles about this case so far, which you can read here.

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Anna Nicole Smith's Case Makes A Comeback

It’s now, officially, the Estate Fight That Refuses To Die!  The quest for money started by Anna Nicole Smith — the former Playboy Playmate, stripper, TV reality star, and the true love of 89-year old Texas oil tycoon, J. Howard Marshall — is not over.  Despite almost 18 years of litigation, two trips to the United States Supreme Court, and untold millions of dollars spent on legal fees, the Anna Nicole Smith case lives on.   Anna Nicole Smith

Anna Nicole Smith (a/k/a Vickie Lynn Marshall) sued after her elderly husband died, following their 14-month marriage.  She was not happy being left out of his massive ($1.6 billion) estate.  She blamed one of his sons, Pierce Marshall, who inherited everything.

The probate case started in Louisiana and then moved to Texas.  Smith sued there, but was forced to file bankruptcy in California.  When she did, Pierce sued her, filing a claim in bankruptcy court.  He claimed Smith defamed him by telling the media he committed fraud in managing his father’s estate. Smith counter-sued, alleging he really did commit fraud.  She also requested millions of dollars based on what, she claimed, J. Howard would have given her if Pierce had not wrongly interfered and stopped it.

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National Television Show Will Help Protect Family Fortunes

After months and months of preparation, this weekend we taped our television show, Trial & Heirs: Protect Your Family Fortune!  Our show will premiere in Michigan on August 9th at 8 p.m. EST and air on PBS affiliates around the country in November and December.  PBS will also stream the broadcast online for the premiere, through, so that everyone would have an opportunity to view the show in August.   Danielle-Andy-film-their-national-TV-special-300x225

The taping included our show with a live studio audience (they were wonderful!), DVD extras from the two of us, and an interview with Ray Charles, Jr.

Ray shared some touching stories about his famous father as well as the private pain that his father’s estate has caused his family.  Ray’s full interview, including some never-before-told stories, will be available as one of the DVD extras.

We share some behind-the-scenes pictures from our production on our Trial & Heirs Facebook page.  If you’re not already a member of our Facebook page, make sure to “like” it so that you receive the latest from us!

Andy and Danielle with Ray Charles, Jr. Our television special is based on our book, Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! In the show, we use high-profile celebrity stories, like Sonny Bono, Marlon Brando, Princess Diana, Michael Jackson and James Brown, to educate people about wills, trusts and estate planning. The TV special will also help raise money to support the wonderful cause of public television, which needs pledge donations now more than ever with federal funding cuts.

With different pledge amounts, viewers can receive the DVD of the show with DVD extras from us as well as our full interview with Ray; a copy of our book, Trial & Heirs; and our brand new Estate Planning Organizer to help you, your family, and your clients.

We hope that all of you join us for the exciting premiere of Trial & Heirs:  Protect Your Family Fortune! on WTVS Channel 56 and, August 9th at 8pm EST!

By Danielle and Andy Mayoras, co-authors of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!, husband-and-wife legacy expert attorneys, and hosts of the national TV special, Trial & Heirs:  Protect Your Family Fortune! The charismatic duo has appeared on the Rachael Ray Show, Forbes, ABC’s Live Well Network, and FOX and NBC affiliates.  They’ve lent their expertise and analysis to hundreds of media sources, including The Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, Kiplinger, and The Washington Post, among many others.  Danielle and Andy delight audiences nationwide with highly entertaining and informative presentations, dishing the dirt on celebrity estate battles while dispensing important legal information to help people avoid family fights among their heirs.

For the latest celebrity and high-profile cases, with tips to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your clients, subscribe to The Trial and Heirs Update at

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The Anna Nicole Smith Case Finally Ends

No, it can’t be … has the 15-year saga started by Anna Nicole Smith, as she tried to get money from the estate of her deceased husband, really come to and end? The court battle involved the fortune owned by the late J. Howard Marshall, II, who was a 90-year-old Texas oil billionaire before he passed away in 1995.   ANS and JHM

The case started in Texas probate court, moved to bankruptcy court in California, traveled up and down the federal court system through numerous appeals, hearings, and even two trips to the United States Supreme Court.

The case survived the death of both people who were fighting — Anna Nicole Smith and her step-son (who was 27 years older than she was). But the case is alive no more. Anna Nicole’s quest for a bequest has failed.

That’s right, apparently love doesn’t conquer all. We all know that Anna Nicole must have been deeply in love with Howard Marshall (whom she met while stripping) despite their age difference of more than 60 years. And she was rewarded for her love with about $8 million in gifts during their brief marriage that lasted just over a year.

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Trial & Heirs' Top Tips for 2011 via Forbes

Now into the second month of 2011, it’s not too late to make a fresh start with the important topic of estate planning, which so many people find ways to keep putting off. We think it’s helpful to see what happened last year with some celebrity estates to help add motivation for proper legal planning in 2011. Forbes_home_logo

What happened in 2010? Dennis Hopper and Gary Coleman both passed away, sparking ugly court fights. The estates of Michael Jackson and Steve McNair dragged on with no end in sight, and Anna Nicole Smith’s efforts to claim a share of her 90-year old deceased husband’s billion dollar estate continued into its fifteenth year in court! In addition, the estates of Farah Fawcett, Gary Coleman, Brittany Murphy, and George Steinbrenner provided valuable lessons on how to (and how not to) protect families through estate planning.

Here’s how to make the most of changes in the law this year.

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Forbes Video on Protecting Against Financial Exploitation

2011 marks the first year that baby boomers turn 65.  This means there will be a dramatic increase in the number of seniors in the years to come, making it extra important to raise awareness and help families protect against financial exploitation.  Forbes_home_logo

Andrew Mayoras recently discussed this topic, featuring some prevention tips on  Of course, discussions of a few celebrity cases are included, such as Wesley Snipes, Anna Nicole Smith, and Farrah Fawcett.

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It's baaaack ... The Anna Nicole Smith Case

It has to rank as one of the craziest, lengthiest and most-watched probate litigation court cases of all time.  It officially started as Vicki Lynn Marshall (a/k/a Anna Nicole Smith) vs. E. Pierce Marshall (son and sole beneficiary of the late oil tycoon, J. Howard Marshall).  Anna-Nicole-Smith-Estate-Trial-and-Heirs

Originally, the Smith team won an $88 million against her "step-son", Pierce, but that victory was taken away by the Court of Appeals, which ended the fight.  That is, it was over until the United States Supreme Court ruled in Smith's favor and reinstated the case.

Then Pierce died, followed by Anna Nicole Smith.  But, just because they both passed away doesn't mean the fighting stopped!  Their two estates have continued to battle over the billions left behind by Smith's 90-year-old husband, 15 years after he died.

Then, this past March, the Court of Appeals again threw out the case (on a different legal ground).  Once again Smith's estate, with the infamous Howard K. Stern at the helm, asked the Supreme Court to step in and review the Court of Appeals' decision.

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