Anna Nicole Smith & the ineffective Will

Anna Nicole Smith (born Vickie Lynn Hogan) died in 2007 aged 39 of an accidental overdose. Anna Nicole was an American model, actress and television personality, who had become famous after appearing as a centerfold in playboy. Dubbed the new Jayne Mansfield she modeled for a number of companies most notably Guess Jeans. In a strange twist although Anna Nicole had made a Will when she died her estate was intestate.

Raised by her mother and aunt, Anna Nicole attended School in Houston. In the ninth grade, she was sent to live with her mother’s younger sister in Mexia, Texas. A poor student Anna Nicole dropped out of Mexia High School, after failing freshman year.

Anna Nicole met her first husband Billy Smith working at Jim’s Krispy Fried Chicken they married in 1985 and had a son Daniel in January 1986.

In May 1992, Anna Nicole’s Playboy Magazine’s appearance led to an ad campaign for Guess Jeans. Working in a strip club Anna Nicole met J. Howard Marshall, an oil tycoon in his late 80’s who she later married. When Marshall died he left Anna Nicole nothing in his Will.

Anna Nicole sued in Texas state probate court, in what was the start of a series of long and acrimonious litigation. Lasting nearly twenty years and being argued before the US Supreme Court twice. Ultimately it was decided that Marshalls Will was valid therefore Anna Nicole’s estate was ineligible to claim from her husband’s estate.

Anna Nicole’s will named her son Daniel as her only beneficiary. The Will created a trust for Daniel’s benefit; he would receive money at ages 25, 30 and 35. The Will intentionally omitted any spouse or child not specifically mentioned, therefore Dannielynn, who was born after the Will’s execution, did not inherit under the Will.

Unfortunately Daniel predeceased his mother, therefore the gift to the trust “lapsed,” as her will did not provide an alternate beneficiary, and Daniel had no descendants, Anna Nicole’s entire estate would pass through intestacy due to Daniel’s death; Therefore, as Anna Nicole was unmarried when she died Dannielynn was Anna Nicole’s sole heir.

As she died intestate there was no executor to arrange for the burial of her body, and no written record of Anna Nicole’s intentions. Her mother wanted her to be buried in Texas with her lawyers arguing that when there is no spouse and no child at least 18 years old, custody of the body goes to the next of kin, which in this case is the mother. Anna Nicole had purchased a burial plot next to her son in the Bahamas and had told friends she wanted to be buried there. Lawyers for Dannielynn applied and were granted the right to dispose of Anna Nicole’s remains.

Anna Nicole had a Will but as with all documents that set out plans for your future they should be amended when there are changes in your life – for example the birth of a child. Anna Nicole’s failure to update her Will meant that the document was ineffective and further compounded the stress that her loved ones experienced at such a difficult time.

 

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