Estate planning is important for all responsible adults regardless of your specific life situation or the extent of your assets. Everyone has something of some value, even if it is largely sentimental, and we are all going to have final expenses that must be addressed. Plus, the vast majority of adults have people who are depending on their income. So even people with relatively simple and uncomplicated lives should have at least a basic estate plan in place.
And once you do take action and develop an estate plan, you have to realize that the estate plan that you execute at any given time is not necessarily going to be appropriate as things in your life change. There are things that take place that are out of your control such as fluctuating market conditions and changes to the tax laws and alterations to government programs that impact the lives of senior citizens.
There are also things that occur that are specific to your own life that can call for estate plan updates, and one of these would be changes in your marital status. The case of Anna Nicole Smith is a good case in point.
Smith emerged into the public consciousness as a result of her 13 month marriage to an 89-year-old Texas oil tycoon named J. Howard Marshall. Smith, a former Playboy Playmate of the Year, was 26 years of age at that time. The reason why the marriage came to an end after 13 months is because Marshall died at the age of 90, leaving behind an estimated $1.6 billion fortune.
Smith said that Marshall promised her half of his estate verbally. His will left virtually all of his resources to one of his sons. This son, E. Pierce Marshall, and Smith then embarked on a legal battle that outlasted both of them. Smith died in 2007, and E. Pierce Marshall died in 2006.
The case was finally resolved recently when the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the estate of E. Pierce Marshall. After fifteen years of legal jousting, the estate of Anna Nicole Smith will walk away empty-handed.