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Anna Nicole Smith Can Teach Us a Few Things

Anna Nicole Smith has become a
household name. But that was not always
the case. She was born as Vickie Lynn
Hogan and grew up about 80 miles south of Dallas,Texas. 42e7c614e2d64919b3a07e4db8cc6457hmedium

She was raised by her mother and, at age 17,
she married Billy Smith, age 16, a cook at the restaurant where she
worked. She divorced Smith after a brief
marriage which produced her son, Daniel. She worked various jobs to support herself and Daniel, including as an
exotic dancer in a Houston
nightclub, where she was known as “Anna Nicole,” as well as other stage
names. It was here that she met J.
Howard Marshall, a frequent customer at the club. 

63 years older than Anna Nicole, began financing her lifestyle and career. Soon, she became Playboy’s Playmate of the
Year and a model for Guess?TM jeans.  The two married in 1994.   
According to Anna Nicole, Marshall promised her half
of his estate upon his death. After a
year of marriage, Marshall died, leaving a will that disinherited one son and did not mention Anna
Nicole. Litigation ensued between Anna
Nicole and Marshall’s
other son, Pierce. More than a decade later, both Marshall’s son, Pierce, and Anna Nicole’s
son, Daniel, are dead. However, the litigation continues. 

Anna Nicole’s situation
demonstrates why communication about your affairs before your death is so
important and can prevent disputes down the road when you are no longer
available to arbitrate disputes and explain your reasoning. When unusual events are involved, such as
marrying someone 63 years younger or disinheriting your spouse, it is even more
important to communicate your wishes before your death.

If you expect problems, you may
consider using a “no contest” clause in your estate plan. Such a clause disinherits anyone who
challenges your estate plan. In order to
make such a clause effective, you may want to consider leaving something to
those to be disinherited so that they have something to lose by challenging.

A qualified estate planning
attorney can help you determine the best way to communicate your wishes and can
help you minimize the risk of a successful challenge to your estate plan.

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