- The Washington Times - Friday, December 4, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In his Op-Ed “Two-front war on estates” (Opinion, Monday), Robert Alt discusses the re-imposition of the estate tax and the possibility that the courts may attack valid estate planning, giving the example of the case of Anna Nicole Smith.

I agree with Mr. Alt about the estate tax, but it’s hard to see how anyone can read the 2002 U.S. District Court decision in the Anna Nicole Smith case, Marshall v. Marshall, and come to his conclusions. The case was over whether to award damages to Smith for interference with the lifetime gifts planned by her late husband, J. Howard Marshall. This decision did not set aside the Texas court decision implementing the Marshall estate plan.

According to the court’s findings, Marshall’s son took many steps to prevent Smith from receiving gifts or an inheritance based upon their legal marriage and the intent of her late husband. The court found that J. Howard Marshall for 90 years showed nothing but contempt for the IRS and the U.S. tax code. He tried to avoid gift taxes on large gifts to his girlfriends and tried to write off these gifts as income tax deductions.

The court found that the son or the father’s attorney back-dated documents, took away the income of the father, made many false statements in the district court case, did not prepare a trust for Smith as requested by the father, drained the father of his assets and inserted new pages in the trust after it had been signed to make the trust irrevocable in order to prevent the father from leaving an inheritance for Smith. This is not a new role for the courts, which often have reviewed cases of altered and falsified wills.

ROGER MCCLURE

Washington Wealth Counsellors PC

McLean

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