The United States Supreme Court, on June 23, 2011, decided that the order from the Bankruptcy Judge did not have the consitutional authority to “reach” into probate court. In San Diego, there are different courts for different issues. The San Diego Superior Court decides probate cases and the United States Federal Court decides bankruptcy issues.
USA Today posted an article about this case. Celebrity cases attract media attention and the case of Anna Nicole Smith has attracted a lot of attention. Anna Nicole Smith received millions of dollars during her life from her husband [E. Piere Marshall] however her estate asked for millions more. The United States Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States and the other courts are bound by their decision.
It is unknown whether this decision will end this case. It is clear that it is crucial, whether you are a celebrity or not, to have a valid estate plan so that your wishes are carried out after your death and to save your surviving heirs the cost and expense of extended litigation.
If you have questions about estate planning or probate, please feel free to contact us for additional information.