Specialist Comments On Long-Running US Case
The long-running estate dispute between the heirs of former model Anna Nicole Smith and the family of her former husband shows why people should always keep Wills as up-to-date as possible, according to a specialist at Irwin Mitchell.
It has been confirmed in the US Supreme Court that the young daughter of the Playboy star will not receive any money in relation to the estate of J Howard Marshall, the 89-year-old billionaire who died just a year after marrying Smith in 1994.
The case first began when Smith discovered she was not mentioned in her late husband‘s Will, with his estate being left to his son. It was claimed that the model was apparently being promised a multimillion dollar share.
Following a 15-year legal battle which has taken in courts in a number of states, it has now been decided that the Marshall family’s heirs do not have to give any money to the only surviving child of Smith, who died in 2007.
Irwin Mitchell’s Will, Trust and Estate Disputes team have revealed the case is one which highlights some of the many complexities that can emerge when making a claim over an inheritance.
Adam Draper, an associate solicitor in the team, said: “This case highlights not only the complexity of Will disputes, but also the sheer length of time that such issues can rumble on for.
“This 15-year battle is particularly out of the ordinary, as the original people involved in the battle have now passed away – leaving their own heirs to go through the process of fighting their respective corners.
“Of course it should be remembered that the costs of a case which continues for such a length of time will be particularly high – and all of this has stemmed from someone simply not bring mentioned in a Will.”
Adam went on to explain that the case also highlights over general issues relating to Wills that many married couples – as well as those who have separated – should bear in mind.
He outlined: “People often are unaware that marriage automatically revokes a Will, so anyone getting married should review their Will as an integral part of the reorganisation of their affairs that getting married means.
“Another issue which this case puts in the spotlight is the complexity of avoiding conflicts over Wills in families where people have remarried. We would urge anyone in this situation to carefully review their Wills and involved loved ones in the process to ensure everyone is clear over where they stand when it comes to inheritance.
“Ultimately, it is vital people always look to ensure Wills are concise and thorough in terms of clearly spelling out their wishes – otherwise their loved ones could be the next ones facing a time-consuming and costly dispute.”
If you are involved in a will dispute or need further information about contesting a will, please visit our Will, Trust & Estate Disputes section