Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Lesson Learned?

The sad and tragic death of Anna Nicole Smith has been difficult to escape unless you turn off cable news stations and stay away from computer news. But there are lessons here for all of us.

I did watch the Florida hearing and saw most all of it. I watched it live, on-line, so I wouldn’t have to listen to comments and interruptions by the media along with commercials. I didn’t want to hear slanted reporting or things taken out of context. I wanted the whole story. It was very complicated, having all the parties to the action and witnesses for each party. Some feel Judge Seidlin overstepped courtroom procedure, and at first, I wasn’t sure I cared for him. But by the second day, I could see why he was covering all the "bases" he did with his comments and questioning of the witnesses. I was also sure I knew by the end of testimony on the second day what his ruling would be. And I agree with that ruling. It was somewhat surprising that he talked of spirituality, lightened the tension with humor, and had an emotional reaction to the importance of the decision and how it would affect all involved. He had a difficult decision to make.

I saw an interview tonight with an attorney who has spent a lot of time in Seidlin’s courtroom and he said that is the way the Judge is, in the court room, off the bench, and socially, and was not "acting" for the cameras. He also mentioned Seidlin has a young child and is an emotional and passionate man. He added that all his lawyer friends like Seidlin as a judge. It now looks like Judge Judy may have some competition.

I’ve not liked Anna’s mother since the first time I saw her interviewed on TV, and I did not believe her to be fully credible on the stand. Let Anna Nicole Smith be buried with dignity and respect beside her son, Daniel where she wanted to be and should be. I can’t believe her mother is appealing the court’s decision and threatening to take it all the way to the Florida Supreme Court. Seems she’s not too bright and may be influenced by her attorneys who would probably be happy to see the case go on and on. I’m sure her retirement, as stated in court, won’t pay the attorney fees she is accumulating.

The media and television reporters have not given Anna Nicole Smith much respect throughout this. Admittedly, she had often created a somewhat outrageous profile by her own actions over the years. Some have called her a "dumb blonde" but I have not seen her life that way at all. Many people who knew her well, liked her, enjoyed her humor, and her sweetness. She was smart and far from dumb in the way she built her career. She apparently had a difficult upbringing, no father in her life, and a troubled and estranged relationship with her mother off and on for years. And I was behind her all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. It takes a strong person to stand up and take on a legal fight as she did. Any court battle is emotionally draining. And she won at the Supreme Court level. Time will tell if remaining issues are resolved in her favor at the "liberal" San Francisco 9th Circuit Court.

It appears her use of prescription drugs was out of control at times, but not at all times. I’d like to know why would any doctor prescribe narcotic drugs to a pregnant woman? Then again, the question, why would a pregnant woman even consider putting her baby at risk? Usually when someone is an addict they will not listen to anyone, so the responsibility does not lay with Howard K. Stern, her friends, or anyone but herself. She had to be willing to get off the prescriptions. This reminds me of Elvis and all the prescribed drugs he was given by doctors.

And as her bodyguard "Big Mo," the man who gave her CPR, said on the Larry King Show he believes "she died of a broken heart," and was in deep grief over the loss of her son, Daniel. He may be right. Her deep depression may have played a large role in the overuse of prescription drugs. I’m curious about something else, though. Will the final autopsy report show a physical ailment that may have contributed to her death?

We all need to pay attention to the lesson here. A similar lesson we should have payed attention to, not too long ago, was about rights before death, at death, and after. I’m speaking of another Florida case, the Terry Schiavo case. The lesson again is telling us that we all need to have wills and/or trusts, living wills, have our wishes in writing, and those wishes shared with loved ones. Who will speak for you when you are gone? The courts? I would recommend a Trust Document as they are difficult to protest, seem to give added protection for a person’s wishes to be carried out, and avoid probate.

The Will of Anna Nicole Smith posted on the Internet, appears not to be written in the usual manner of California wills, and may be only what they call a "pour-over will." There may be a Trust Document that would clarify her wishes regarding "children." We will see. I’ve done a Will and Trust in California, in Arizona, and again in California, and am familiar with the legal language normally used and my documents were done carefully, and most importantly, the way I wanted them.

The other lesson that should be of value is the situation with who is the biological father of her child. If safe sex, condom use, had taken place there would not be a line-up of men believing they could be the father of the baby. What if it turns out to be none of them? Will someone else come forward? I believe the baby looks like Howard K. Stern in the later photos I’ve seen.

The other thing that comes to mind was Anna Nicole’s connection to Marilyn Monroe and the comments she often made to others that she felt she would die young like Marilyn. Did she create that reality for herself? Subconscious or conscious? Whatever, it was her time to go. And now she needs to be put to rest where she belongs, next to her son. Of course, they are already together, but her burial wishes need to be respected.

Please pay attention to the lessons here. Be responsible, not only for yourself but for the future and your heirs. If you do not have a Living Will, Durable Power of Attorney, a Trust or Will, give this all some thought so you or your heirs are never faced with legal battles. Death and grief are emotional enough without having legal worries to face.


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