The heirs of Anna Nicole Smith are continuing their fight to obtain half of the estate from the late model’s deceased husband. Oil tycoon, J. Howard Marshall married Smith in 1994 and it has been said he verbally promised her half of his estate before passing only 14 months after they married. The controversial marriage between the 89 and 26 year old has sparked much debate over the years. Now, Anna’s heirs are continuing to climb the jurisdictional ladder in hopes of claiming, what they say, was rightfully their late mothers.
Anna Left Empty Handed
The fight over the Howard estate begun only weeks after his passing in 1995, and Smith and Howard’s heirs battled over the rights to the money. Anna claimed she only wanted the half her late husband promised her and the first of many court hearings began. Although Howard never documented the inheritance in his will, Smith pursued rights based on their marriage. For nearly a decade the fight over the $1.6 billion estate continued until the Supreme Court ruled in late June of this year. The court determined that Smith’s heirs, consisting of her children and a common law husband, were not legally entitled to any of the Howard estate.
This ruling sparked yet another fight, whereby Smiths heirs argue that the Supreme Court should not be given jurisdiction to rule in a case between states. In 1996 a former employee of Smith’s won a sexual harassment suit ordering Anna to pay $850,000 in damages. She filed for bankruptcy shortly after losing the case and the California bankruptcy court became involved in the fight for the estate in order to ensure Smith’s debts were paid. Shortly after a probate court in Texas ruled she was not entitled to the estate money leaving her, once again, empty handed.
The conflict between the California and Texas courts was eventually brought to federal court, and is now being decided in the Supreme Court. The latest ruling of the Supreme Court denies Smith’s heirs claim to the estate based on the grounds that “a bankruptcy court may not decide a common law cause of action.” Her heirs are not giving up the fight and have filed an appeal stating the federal court should not have the right to rule until the appeal regarding the conflict between states has been resolved.