Ana Nicole Smith Estate Litigation Attorneys win over Justices for right to continue Inheritance Litigation
Former Playmate can pursue share of late husband's millions
The Trust Dispute Lawyers are continuing to continue their fight with the Probate Litigation Attorneys will return to Probate Court.
State courts usually decide probate issues involving wills and trusts and related probate litigation, will contests and trust disputes. Federal courts hear bankruptcy issues.
The so-called "probate exception" normally keeps federal courts from hearing such trust or estate disputes, but there is no congressional law mandating the hands-off approach.
"The probate exception does not bar federal courts from adjudicating matters outside those confines and otherwise within federal jurisdiction," wrote Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for the court. She concluded a federal appeals court improperly kept Smith from pursuing her estate litigation case.
Smith's attorneys claim that apart from the will and trust, Howard Marshall promised his young wife a share of assets earned while they were married.
Courts have disagreed
State and federal courts have disagreed over whether Smith should receive any part of the estate.
A U.S. bankruptcy judge initially awarded her $474 million, which later was reduced to about $90 million. A federal appeals court eventually dismissed the entire award.
A state probate court also dismissed her claims, saying E. Pierce Marshall was the sole heir.
"I will continue to fight to clear my name in California federal court," said Pierce Marshall in a statement released shortly after Monday's ruling. "That is a promise that Vickie [Smith] and her lawyers can take to the bank."
The Justices held that the ninth circuit had "no warrant from Congress, or from the decisions of this Court, for its sweeping extension of the probate exception." Link to the Supreme Court opinion