Last week the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the March ruling of the federal appeals court in San Francisco with regard to the estate of J. Howard Marshall. Marshall was 89 when he married the 26-year old model and actress Anna Nicole Smith back in 1994. He died in 1995 after about 14 months of marriage and since then his widow and his son, E. Pierce Marshall, have been battling over the $1.6 billion estate.
The San Francisco court ruled that J. Howard Marshall was mentally competent and not unduly influenced when he made his estate plan that left the bulk of his estate to his son. According to cnn.com, the U.S. Supreme Court justices "will decide whether [Anna Nicole] Smith's estate received a proper hearing in federal courts, and whether state probate courts should be the proper venue for hearing such cases. The so-called "probate exception" normally keeps federal courts from hearing such disputes, but there is no congressional law mandating the hands-off approach." In other words, it's a procedural question. Oral arguments will be heard early in 2011.
E. Pierce Marshall died in 2006 and Anna Smith Smith died in 2007, meaning that their estates are now battling it out in court over J. Howard Marshall's estate.