It’s hard to argue that a decedent who died at home was a resident of somewhere else, but the estate of Marilyn Monroe, who was found dead in her Brentwood home in 1962, has always maintained that she was a domiciliary of New York. The estate’s executor took that position in probate proceedings and in dealings with California tax authorities, which found that most of Monroe’s assets were exempt from state inheritance taxes. But now Monroe’s heirs are claiming she was domiciled in California because they prefer California law on the right of publicity.
Update: In a reversal of fortune, the district court has awarded sanctions for discovery abuse in favor of Anna Nicole Smith’s estate and her daughter Dannielynn against the estate of her stepson, Pierce Marshall, and his attorney. In a sweeping decision (Marshall v Hilliard (In re Marshall) (CD Cal May 29, 2013, SACV-01-0097 DOC)), the court found that Marshall and his attorney had practiced a fraud on the court and made a mockery of the justice system by withholding or destroying documents, among other abuses. Smith’s estate now stands to collect much of the earlier damage award thrown out by the Ninth Circuit.
It isn’t often that a court is reversed twice by the U.S. Supreme Court in the same case and still had the right result. But in effect, that’s what happened to the Ninth Circuit in the Anna Nicole Smith case.