One of the most difficult aspects of the death of a loved one is taking care of the details of his or her estate. At a time when most of the decedent’s family and friends want to focus on the emotional loss they’re feeling, administering the estate can be agonizing, especially if the person who died failed to make arrangements for property and assets.
This is why estate planning is so crucial. But sometimes the administration of an estate can take years even when plans are in place. And here in celebrity-filled Southern California, some deaths seem predisposed to some drama.
Although many have questioned the reason for her initial fame, former Playboy Playmate and reality show star Anna Nicole Smith has somehow managed to return to the spotlight even six years after her death. Her Studio City home has finally sold, which ties up a high-priced loose end in the administration of her estate.
After Smith died in 2007, her daughter, Dannielynn, and the girl’s father moved into the multimillion-dollar home. Although Smith had a will at the time of her death, the deed for the home was held by one of her companies. Smith apparently transferred the title to her business one day after purchasing the home in an effort to protect her privacy.
The executor of her will, Howard K. Stern, requested permission to transfer the title of the home to him so that he could sell the property. The Los Angeles Superior Court granted that request in April 2011 and he immediately put the home up for sale for $1.75 million. The home sold this month and the proceeds of the sale will go to her daughter.
Smith has endured no shortage of criticism for her choices in life, and that criticism continued long after her death. But she apparently learned some things about estate planning along the way — perhaps as a result of the very public estate battle with the family of her 89-year-old late husband. The case lasted more than 15 years and wound up in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Californians, though they may be loathe to admit it, could take a lesson from Smith by making their own plans for their estates. By creating a will and choosing a responsible executor, she ensured a more stable future for her daughter — perhaps much more stable than her own life.
Source: NBC News, “Anna Nicole Smith’s Calif. home sells,” Erika Riggs, Jan. 18, 2013