Where there's a will, there's an executor. And where there's Anna Nicole Smith's will, there's a trail of contention.
Smith's Los Angeles-based attorney, Ron Rale, appeared on CNN's Larry King Live Monday, saying that Smith had indeed written a will and that both he and Howard K. Stern were named as its executors.
"I'll represent right now that I will be working in a capacity on behalf of her estate...there is a will that was executed by Anna Nicole," he said. "Just to be specific, Howard [K.] Stern is named first as executor. And I'm the second executor."
While Rale claimed he had in fact seen the will, written by Smith in 2001 (while son Daniel was still alive and daughter Dannielynn five years away), the lawyer did not disclose what was contained within the document. He did say he was still uncertain as to how her estate, and the potential $474 million she stands to inherit from oil tycoon ex-husband J. Howard Marshall II, would be allocated.
"How it's going to unfold, I can't tell you right now. But that's—this is developing for us, too."
"We're kind of jumping ahead, because there's no probate officially pending right now."
Rale was joined by several more Anna Nicole Smith players on the show, including Stern's sister, Bonnie Stern, who defended allegations that her brother was somehow a party to either Smith's death last week or Daniel's death last September, saying that reports painting him as some sort of ill-intentioned puppetmaster could not be further from the truth.
"Anna Nicole controlled what Anna Nicole did," she said. "He did not feed her pills. He did not get her medication. Anna Nicole got her own medication, and she did what she wanted to do."
Her statement conflicts with reports last week that Smith was taking prescription medication at the time of her death that had Stern's name on the labels. Seminole Police in Hollywood, Florida, where Smith died last week, confirmed that pills were present in her hotel room; however, officials declined to reveal whose name was on the prescription.
As for Smith's death, Bonnie Stern said her brother was "completely devastated."
"He was freezing, sweating, under the covers, crying, just completely devastated. His whole world was gone, is the way he put it. 'My whole world is gone.' "
In a later interview with the Associated Press, Stern's sister confirmed Stern was not in the room with Smith when she collapsed at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel on Thursday, but that he had been aware she was sick.
Bonnie Stern said her brother told her Smith had been running a 105-degree fever throughout the morning and that the private nurse, who later found Smith's body, had been "icing her down."
"When he left her, she was sleeping," she said. She also claimed her brother was gone from the room—to where, she didn't say—for just two hours before learning of Smith's death.
According to a 911 tape released by the Hollywood police department Tuesday, Smith was unconscious and not breathing when her private nurse, whose name has not yet been released, found her. [Listen to the 911 call]
In the 31-second call, the Seminole police department, whose jurisdiction includes the Indian reservation that houses the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino where Smith was staying, is heard requesting help from the Hollywood paramedics.
"She's not breathing, and she's not responsive," the police officer says on the tape. "She's, um, actually Anna Nicole Smith."
"Oh, okay," the Hollywood police officer responds.
Paramedics were on the scene in six minutes, and approximately one hour later, Smith was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Smith and Stern were in Florida to look into buying a yacht and, per Bonnie Stern, an engagement ring. She claims the couple, who held a commitment ceremony in the Bahamas just eight days after Daniel's death last fall, were set to tie the knot officially on Feb. 27.
Bonnie Stern also weighed in on the ongoing, and ever expanding, paternity challenge faced by her brother. At last count, five names were floated as possible fathers of five-month-old Dannielynn.
While Stern's name is listed on her birth certificate, Los Angeles photographer Larry Birkhead is contesting the claim and seeking DNA testing to determine the real father. A hearing is set for next week.
There's also Prince Frederic von Anhalt, the husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor, who claims he fathered the child during a decade-long affair with Smith and is ready to go to court. Then on Monday, one of Smith's ex-bodyguards intimated he might be the father, though he doesn't appear to be launching any legal action yet. Finally, Smith's long estranged sister, Donna Hogan, claimed Smith became pregnant with the frozen sperm of her late 90-year-old husband, J. Howard Marshall II.
As for why Stern won't just take a paternity test to determine once and for all who the baby's father is, his sister said on Larry King Live that he simply doesn't want to give in to Birkhead.
"He says, 'I'm not doing it for Larry Birkhead. If I have to, I'll do it, but I'm not doing it for him.' "
Bonnie Stern went so far as to deny to the AP that Birkhead was ever even Smith's boyfriend, but she did concede "there were times of some intimacy" between Birkhead and Smith.
TrimSpa CEO Alex Goen also appeared on the show and said he, too, wished the paternity question would be settled but that even he is not sure of who the father will turn out to be.
"Anna had a relationship with Larry Birkhead. No question about it. I witnessed it myself," he said. "I have talked to Larry. He seemed compelling. I have talked to Howard. He's very compelling."
As for Goen's take on why Stern won't submit to a paternity test, he says he believes Stern's reluctance was "more a matter of Anna than Howard. I'm thinking that possibly Howard may change his mind. But who knows? Howard may want to fulfill Anna's wishes."
For his part, Birkhead took his case to the New York Daily News, telling the paper that after Smith got pregnant—a pregnancy the two of them had planned—"things went downhill quickly."
"Howard has never liked me, and he never wanted me and Anna to be together," Birkhead said, chalking up his ousting from Smith's life to "his difference of opinion on several matters."
Meanwhile, Goen also spoke briefly to King about the photos that surfaced yesterday, purporting to be of Smith's private refrigerator that was kept in her bedroom in her Bahamas home. In addition to bottles of morphine, methadone and unidentifiable injectable medications, the photos also showed bottles of TrimSpa and cans of Slim-Fast. Goen believes the photo, and the suspicious placement of a rival product near the one Smith was endorsing, was "a setup."
"It was kind of interesting how all of the bottles are pointed right to the camera...I think Slim-Fast is a wonderful product. I don't believe Anna was taking it," he said. "I think they're trying to harm the credibility of Anna Nicole and Howard."
As for other loose ends, Stern, who is currently in the Bahamas with Dannielynn, will have another hearing Feb. 26 to determine whether he will be able to remain in the home he shared with Smith before her death. G. Ben Thompson, a former boyfriend of Smith, claims the home is his and that he has never received payment from Smith or Stern.
Thompson's attorney, Godfrey Pinder, also made the rounds last night, telling King the matter of determining the estate's title should not, unlike other pending litigation, drag on.
"My client has all the documents," he said. "Howard and his group have none."
In the meantime, a new battle is brewing, this time over Smith's body, currently in a Florida morgue.
According to TMZ, Birkhead, Stern and Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur, have all staked claim to Smith's remains. Birkhead received a legal hold on the former Playboy Playmate's body last week, when a Los Angeles judge ordered it be preserved pending a Feb. 20 paternity hearing.
Per tmz.com, Smith's reps have contacted Birkhead to strike a deal in which they will allow a DNA sample from Smith to be tested if he relinquishes his hold on the body. The sample would be fruitless, however, as they still refuse to allow a DNA sample be taken of Dannielynn.
When Smith's body is removed from the morgue, she's expected to be buried alongside her son in a Nassau cemetery.