Anna Nicole Smith Drama: 'Right Out of Central Casting'

Paternity Battle is Next

All other legal battles in the Smith case will take place outside of Florida. The next critical one will determine who the father of Dannielynn is, a case still pending in the California courts.

So far, three men have claimed to be the baby's father -- Stern (whose name is on the birth certificate), her former boyfriend Larry Birkhead and Prince Frederick von Anhalt, husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor. Once paternity has been resolved, then the state's courts can look at the money issue.

The battle over Marshall's fortune has bounced from Texas and California courts all the way to the Supreme Court when Smith's claimed inheritance was reduced to $44 million. The highest court ruled in favor of Smith in the jurisdictional dispute, deeming California's federal appellate court as the proper venue for the case.

A long battle is likely and "someone is likely to settle," said Wice.

It gets more complicated. Questions of Smith's legal residence could have a ripple effect on all the other pieces of the legal puzzle. At the time of her death, Smith lived in the Bahamas, but her mother, Dannielynn's father or her guardian could challenge that.

"If either believes the California laws are more favorable, they could argue she was never a resident of [the] Bahamas," said Baskies. "That wouldn't shock me."

The legal domicile determines where the estate is administered and which laws will ultimately decide "who is the beneficiary and who gets the money," said Baskies.

Once the Florida court disposes of Smith's body, there is the matter of the estate -- and her will.

Smith wrote an unusual document, one that may come back to bite any of the characters who has a stake in Dannielynn's estate. "The document appears to be a will," said Baskies, "but it hasn't been offered to probate yet to determine if it is technically valid or not." Virgie Arthur claims, for example, that Stern was "an undo influencer."

Unusual Will Confuses Case

Once the authenticity of the will is determined, the question of who receives Smith's money must be settled. According to Baskies, Smith wrote, "All of the property of my estate ... shall be distributed to Howard Stern, Esq., to hold in trust for my child under such terms as he and a court of competent jurisdiction may declare ...

"I have intentionally omitted to provide for my spouse and other heirs, including future spouses and children and other descendants now living and those hereafter born or adopted."

That, says Baskies, is an "express disinheritance of after-born children, such as Dannielynn.

"This is an unusual provision because Anna Nicole was still of child-bearing age and could have had -- and indeed did have -- another child, Dannielynn," said Baskies. "As a result of this clause, it's unclear what will happen to Anna Nicole Smith's estate -- will it pass in trust or to intestate heirs?"

As a result of Daniel predeceasing, the disposition in the will, to the trust, might be invalidated, and Smith may be deemed to have died intestate. And to the question of legal jurisdiction: If Smith's legal domicile is the Bahamas, those courts would be charged with solving the case -- unless, of course, her legal residence is California.

"In Florida, the estate would go to a guardian for the benefit of Dannielynn," said Baskies. "The guardian would be determined by the court -- someone who would act in the best interest of the minor."

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