Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, February 12, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith -- Issue Update

Smith3Here is an update on some of the issues triggered by Anna Nicole Smith's death:

Cause of Death:  "Anna Nicole Smith does not appear to be a victim of foul play, according to preliminary results of an autopsy performed Friday [February 9, 2007].  The cause and manner of the television celebrity's death were not determined, however, and the investigation remains open, said Dr. Joshua Perper, chief medical examiner of Broward County, Florida."  Smith's death unexplained after autopsy, CNN.com, Feb. 10, 2007.

Children: Anna Nicole Smith had two children:

  • Daniel, who died at age 20 on September 10, 2006
  • Dannielynn, who was born on September 7, 2006

Father of Dannielynn:  The following individuals could be Dannielynn's father:

  • Howard K. Stern, Anna's attorney and companion
  • Larry Birkhead, freelance journalist
  • Frederic von Anhalt, Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband
  • J. Howard Marshall, Anna's deceased husband by use of frozen sperm
Surviving Spouse:  Stern and Anna entered into a commitment ceremony in the Bahamas.  Stern may claim that this was the equivalent to a marriage thus giving him rights as a surviving spouse.
Will:  It is unknown whether Anna left a valid will.
Intestacy:  If Anna did not leave a will, her estate would pass by intestacy, to her Dannielynn and to her husband, if any.
Domicile at Death:  The law governing the validity of her will, if any, and how her estate would pass by intestacy would be governed by the law of her domicile at death.  It is uncertain the state or nation in which Anna was domiciled at the time of her death.
Guardian of Dannielynn:  The man found to be Dannielynn's father would probably have the best chance (unless it is J. Howard, of course) of being named as her guardian thus gaining control over her inherited property until she reaches 18.  If Anna named a guardian in her will, the court would have to determine if Anna's wishes or that of the father prevail.
Survival Action:  Anna's claim for $474 million from J. Howard's estate may be continued by the personal representative of Anna's estate.


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This story is so crazy. I hope Stern isn't the father.

Posted by: sports bettor | Feb 12, 2007 5:57:02 PM

I also hope Stern isn't the father.

Posted by: Jeanie /Sims | Feb 19, 2007 9:25:17 PM

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