Vickie Lynn Smith, an actress and model also known as Anna Nicole Smith, met J. Howard Marshall II in 1991. During their courtship, J. Howard lavished gifts and large sums of money on Anna Nicole, and they married on June 27, 1994. J. Howard died on August 4, 1995. According to Anna Nicole, J. Howard intended to provide for her financial security through a trust, but under the terms of his will, all of his assets were transferred to a trust for the benefit of E. Pierce Marshall, one of J. Howard’s sons. While J. Howard’s estate was subject to probate proceedings in a Texas state court, Anna Nicole filed for bankruptcy in a federal bankruptcy court. Pierce filed a claim in the bankruptcy proceeding, alleging that Anna Nicole had defamed him when her lawyers told the media that Pierce had engaged in forgery and fraud to gain control of his father’s assets. Anna Nicole filed a counterclaim, alleging that Pierce prevented the transfer of his father’s assets to a trust for her by, among other things, imprisoning J. Howard against his wishes, surrounding him with security guards to prevent contact with her, and transferring property against his wishes. [Marshall v. Marshall, 547 U. S. 293, 126 S. Ct. 1735, 164 L. Ed. 2d 480 (2006)]
(a) What is the purpose underlying the requirements for a valid will? Which of these requirements might be at issue in this case? How should it apply here? Why?
(b) State courts generally have jurisdiction over the pro-bate of a will and the administration of an estate. Does the Texas state court thus have the sole authority to adjudicate all of the claims in this case? Why or why not?
(c) How should Pierce’s claim against Anna Nicole and her counterclaim be resolved?
(d) Anna Nicole executed her will in 2001. The beneficiary— Daniel, her son, who was not J. Howard’s child— died in 2006, shortly after Anna Nicole gave birth to a daughter, Dannielynn. In 2007, before executing a new will, Anna Nicole died. What hap-pens if a will’s beneficiary dies before the testator? What happens if a child is born after a will is executed?