Marshall Estate Will Not Go to Anna Nicole Smith's Heirs
Estate planning is not a matter of visiting a legacy planning attorney one day,drawing up some documents, and then tucking them away in a lockbox somewhere forever. Many people don't recognize the fact that estate planning is an ongoing process, and this is partially because of the fact that they don't necessarily anticipate any profound changes taking place in their lives.
But the fact is that life-changing events do take place, and a lot of times they're going to result in your existing estate plan not being aligned with your wishes in light of the altered circumstances.Divorce and remarriage fit the category of life-changing events that impact your existing estate plan.
Obviously you're going to want to make adjustments if you are like most people and want to exclude your former spouse and subsequently include your new spouse when you get remarried. But you also need to make sure that your wishes are very clearly elucidated if you are legally married and choose to disinherit your spouse. This is underscored by the case of Anna Nicole Smith and J.Howard Marshall.
Marshall, who was a billionaire oilman, and Smith got married in Houston in 1994 when Smith was 26 and Marshall was 89 years of age.The tycoon died a little over a year later and left behind a will that did not include Anna Nicole Smith,who was indeed his wife at the time of his death. We will never really know if he did intentionally disinherit her,but we do know that she wasn't included in the will.
She challenged the will,which left virtually all of his resources to one of his two sons.The battle raged on until both the son,E Pierce Marshall,and Smith had passed away.The matter finally reached a conclusion earlier this year when the Supreme Court awarded the estate to the heirs of E.Pierce Marshall.
This case demonstrates how long an estate can be held up when the estate plan was not executed in an ironclad manner.Make sure that you consult your estate planning attorney when your marital status changes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John Kuhn
Experienced estate planning attorneys Charleston NC of the Kuhn and Kuhn Law Firm offers estate planning and business planning resources to residents of Charleston, NC.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.