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Anna Nicole Smith Estate loses out on $88 Million

Can the Granddaddy of all probate disputes finally be nearing an end?  Those in charge of the Anna Nicole Smith Estate certainly hope not.  Smith, also known as Vickie Lynn Marshall, battled for a share of her late husband's multi-billion dollar estate for almost 12 years before she died.  Here's the Probate Lawyer Blog's discussion of the case to bring you up to speed.  Anna-Nicole-Smith-Estate-Trial-and-Heirs

To cut to the chase, Smith was broken hearted when she didn't inherit anything from the estate or trust of J. Howard Marshall II, her late husband (who was more than 60 years older than she was).  Smith filed legal claims seeking a piece of his fortune in two different states; she lost in Texas but won in California.  Her victory was snatched away by the federal court of appeals, but she found new hope when that ruling was overturned by the United States Supreme Court in 2006.  Yes, that's right, the highest court in our land ruled in favor of the ex-Playboy Playmate.

But, now, the three federal appellate court judges who reviewed the case ruled against her -- again. 

In fact, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a landmark decision this past Friday, declaring that the federal judge who awarded her $88 million never should have done so.

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The Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! Video Trailer

Here's a short video trailer to give a taste of what the new book, Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights!, is all about:

[If it doesn't play for you, visit Trial & Heirs to see it there]

We wrote this book to give families a way to have the difficult conversations about estate planning that are so hard for people.  No one likes to talk about what will happen when someone dies.  So they put it off, procrastinate, and suddenly it's too late.

With celebrity stories, not only can you start these conversations, but you can get your loved ones to actually do the proper planning.  For example, Michael Jackson didn't use his trust properly and it led to a long fight in court that could have been avoided.  Princess Diana undermined her own will by using a letter of wishes the wrong way.  And everyone knows about the disastrous legal battles involving Anna Nicole Smith. 

We use these stories, and dozens more, along with easy-to-follow education and practical tips to avoid family fights, so your families don't end up the same way.  The book is now available at

Posted by: Andrew W. Mayoras and Danielle B. Mayoras, co-authors of Trial and Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founders of The Center for Probate Litigation and The Center for Elder Law in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law. Andrew and Danielle are husband and wife attorneys, professional speakers and consultants across the country.

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FBI investigated Anna Nicole Smith for murder of "step-son"

Probate disputes over whether a will or trust was valid, or instead was signed at at time when the person was mentally incompetent or subject to undue influence, are common.  They're also very emotional and difficult for everyone involved.  The Anna Nicole Smith case -- the Granddaddy of all probate disputes -- illustrates this more than any other.  Anna-Nicole-Smith-Estate-Trial-and-Heirs

I discussed the case in this article, including how the estate executor/lawyer/former boyfriend, Howard K. Stern, not only lost a request he filed in the federal Court of Appeals on behalf of Smith's Estate, but how he was charged criminally with conspiring to provide Anna Nicole with the prescription drugs that killed her.

In Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights, which I wrote with Danielle Mayoras, we discuss the case at length (along with dozens more) so people can learn from celebrity errors, protect their heirs, and know their legal rights if they find themselves in a family fortune fight.

But a new twist on the case surfaced recently.  While this development did not affect the case itself, and turned out to be nothing important in the end, it highlights how difficult these cases can get for those going through them.  And yes, not just the rich and famous!

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Brooke Astor verdict aids fight against financial elder abuse

An interesting article came out today by the Associated Press about how professionals who combat financial abuse against seniors can hold up the Brooke Astor verdict to raise awareness of the growing epidemic.  You can read the article hereBrooke Astor

Jennifer Peltz, who wrote the article, discusses how advocates against financial exploitation of the elderly hailed the verdict and how it is far from alone.  She points that there have been many other famous cases involving the rich, such as J. Steward Johnson (heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune) and Anna Nicole Smith versus the son of her late 90-year-old billionaire husband. 

The really sad part is that this problem affects many more than the wealthy in America.  Indeed, with our country's troubled economic times, the problem of people stealing from and coercing seniors out of their money is getting worse and worse.  And the best prevention is for families to be proactive and protect their aging loved ones, especially once there is a diagnoses of dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

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New Book To Help Avoid Celebrity Estate Planning Blunders

“Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!” Explores High-Profile Cases & Offers Expert Advice



The highly publicized estate battles of several deceased celebrities have cast a bright spotlight on the importance of having the proper estate planning. Although mega-rich celebrities seem to be affected overwhelmingly by these brutal family squabbles, the new book


"Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!" is designed to help every family, regardless of income level, avoid the financial pitfalls that drained bank accounts and created huge family rifts for the dozens of superstars profiled in the book. 

“Trial & Heirs” uses real stories to help readers steer clear of the same celebrity “estate errors” as they plan for their own “heirs.” The stories cover well known legal fights over famous fortunes: including the recent battles over Michael Jackson’s estate, along with other celebrities like Ted Kennedy; Anna Nicole Smith; Brooke Astor; Heath Ledger, Ray Charles; Princess Di; Jimi Hendrix; Frank Sinatra; Martin Luther King Jr.; and Rosa Parks… as well as many others that most people aren’t even aware of.  The book gives readers a front row seat in the courtroom while the authors replay the “tabloid drama”, point out what went wrong in these riveting cases, and teach readers how to avoid similar errors.

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Celebrity Money Battles article

The chief editor of and I collaborated on an article discussing some of the latest celebrity estate and probate-related feuds.  The article includes:Britney Spears 2

The battles in the Britney Spears Conservatorship case, highlighted by the attorney who compared Britney's situation to a Soviet forced labor camp, before a restraining order was entered against him for three years.

Whitney Houston 2The Whitney Houston life insurance court case, through which Whitney lashed back at her step-mother (who sued Whitney) by detailing how the "custodial care services worker" met Whitney's father cleaning his house and then moved in with him despite their 40-year age difference and the fact Whitney's father was married at the time.

The Marlon Brando Estate, which has been involved in 26 different lawsuitsCeleb-marlon-brando_275-x-2481, including claims of sexual harassment, fraud, forgery, undue influence and abuse -- not to mention bringing to light Brando's paranoia that was so severe at the end of his life, he wanted his bedroom padlocked when he died so no one would steal the buttons off his shirt.

Anna Nicole SmithAnd the Grandaddy of all estate battles  -- Anna Nicole Smith -- who fought the son of her late 90-year old husband over his fortune worth hundreds of millions, up to the United States Supreme Court, only to have her own estate embroiled in litigation when she died.

You can read the complete Celebrity Money Battles article here.

Newsplink is a cool new website featuring unique news stories submitted by amateur and professional journalists alike. 

Posted by:  Author and probate attorney Andrew W. Mayoras, co-author of Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founder and shareholder of The Center for Probate Litigation and The Center for Elder Law in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law.  You can email him at awmayoras @

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The Return of the Anna Nicole Smith Case

It's back!  Perhaps the most famous probate litigation case ever, Marshall v. Marshall (a/k/a Anna Nicole Smith versus the son of her late 90+year old husband) has been on hold for more than two years, but may be ready for its big comeback.ANS and JHM

In 2002, former Playboy Playmate of the Year Anna Nicole Smith won a judgment for a whopping $88 million against the son of her late husband for interfering with her inheritance rights.  More specifically, two different federal court judges in California ruled in her favor, finding that E. Pierce Marshall, son of the late oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II, had fraudulently and improperly prevented Howard Marshall from making a substantial gift to Anna Nicole Smith.

In fact, the courts found "overwhelming" evidence that Pierce Marshall's willful, malicious and fraudulent behavior, which included forging documents and lying to his father, justified $44 million in damages, plus another $44 million in "punitive" damages because the behavior was so outrageous.

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