Howard K. Stern was entirely financially dependent upon Anna Nicole Smith, he revealed Wednesday during the ongoing hearing to decide who will get custody of her remains.
Stern, 38, who had been Smith's lawyer and companion, told Florida Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin that he'd had no income outside of his association with Smith since 2002, when he split with a former law partner to work with Smith exclusively.
Under grilling from lawyers and Judge Seidlin, Stern admitted that Smith paid the $950 rent on his apartment, and that she gave him cash to buy personal items such as shoes.
"I was with Anna. My income was with her," Stern said. "Anna paid my rent. Everything that I did for her legally I didn't charge her for."
Stern also said he earned around $25,000 for appearing on E!'s 2002-2004 reality series The Anna Nicole Show,
but he denied accepting any money from the media since Smith's death on Feb. 8.
He did allow Entertainment Tonight
to fly him to the Bahamas and tape his reunion with Smith's 5-month-old daughter Dannielynn just days after Smith died, he said, but he insisted he didn't accept any payment.
So who is paying for his team of lawyers now? Stern said that his retired parents had wired him money to pay for his legal team; asked how much they sent him, he said: "A substantial amount, because we're expecting a substantial fight here."
Stern, who is named executor of Smith's estate
in her 2001 will, said he would waive any fee he might be entitled to for his work in that role.
But he also admitted that, as Smith's lawyer in the continuing litigation over the estate of her late husband, billionaire J. Howard Marshall, he was entitled to about 5 percent of any money she was awarded. The latest judgment awarded Smith $100 million, meaning Stern could net $5 million. "It's a little Florida lottery," Judge Seidlen told Stern.
So what will Stern do now that Smith, his only source of income, is gone? He indicated he would return to private practice as an lawyer. "I'm not an incompetent person," he said. "I went to a good college, I went to a good law school, I have skills. In terms of what I'm going to do, honestly, right now I'm just trying to deal with the death of Anna Nicole."
Much of the afternoon testimony also centered on Smith's state of mind when she signed her 2001 will. Her mental capacity at the time "is an issue – it's absolutely an issue," said Judge Seidlen, allowing lawyers to push Stern for specifics about Smith's drug use.
But Stern pushed back. "Your honor, is this really necessary?" he asked. "It's not right to do this to someone after they've died."
Pressed about which drugs Smith had taken since 2001, Stern said, "I couldn't be sure of every medication she placed in her body."
Why did Smith take drugs at all? "Anna Nicole took prescription medication at times for depression," said Stern. "She had more than one doctor [but] I believe her doctors knew each other."
Asked if he could Stern have prevented Smith from taking these drugs, he said: "I talked to her about it ...Can anybody stop someone else entirely? Added Stern: "I don't think that medication influenced her decisions. I mean, it's not like Anna was medicated all the time."
Judge Seidlen even asked about Smith's slurry speech in videotapes. "That's how Anna Nicole talked," Stern said. "[But] she formed her thoughts. She knew what she wanted."
Under questioning Stern also said that Smith's son, Daniel, was concerned about his mother's drug use. "Daniel talked to his mom about that, yes," he said. "[Anna Nicole] would go back and forth depending on what was going on in her life. When she was more stressed out, she would take more medication."
Stern also admitted that Smith had a prescription for methadone, which he said was given to her by Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, but insisted that she did not take the drug "in my presence over the last five months."