If the ongoing legal dispute between the estate of Anna Nicole Smith and the estate of her late husband J. Howard Marshall is ever resolved in favor of the former Playboy Playmate, it is her 18-month-old daughter Dannielynn Hope Marshall Birkhead who stands to inherit the multi-million dollar fortune at stake.
The baby was officially named the sole heir of Anna Nicole’s estate earlier today, after Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff approved a request by Howard K. Stern — acting in his capacity as executor — for such a finding. The legal determination is significant in that Anna Nicole’s last will was drafted five years prior to Dannielynn’s birth and used wording that made her intentions with regard to an heir unclear, particularly in light of the surprise death of her 20-year-old son Daniel in September 2006.
Judge Beckloff additionally established a trust on Dannielynn’s behalf, naming Howard and Dannielynn’s father Larry Birkhead as co-trustees. Said an attorney for Howard following the ruling,
We and Mr. Stern always believed that Anna Nicole never intended to disinherit her daughter. I’m pleased to say this chapter in the saga is closed.
Dannielynn was the only child for Anna Nicole — who died in February 2007 at the age of 39 — and Larry, an ex-boyfriend.