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Anna Nicole Smith's body embalmed

Story Highlights

• Anna Nicole Smith's mother and longtime partner differ on where to bury her
• Smith left everything to her son Daniel, who died in September
• Her partner, Howard K. Stern, is executor of will, written in 2001

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida (CNN) -- The body of Anna Nicole Smith was embalmed Saturday at the Broward County Medical Examiner's office, officials said.

Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin ruled on Friday the embalming could proceed, and although the move takes the former Playboy Playmate's body one step closer to burial, the fight over where she will be buried has only begun.

Smith's attorney and longtime partner, Howard K. Stern, says Smith wanted to be buried next to her son Daniel, who died in the Bahamas last year. But the reality TV star's estranged mother, Vergie Arthur, wants her buried in her native Texas. (Watch how the will gives Howard Stern legal clout Video)

Stern's attorneys say Smith bought a plot in the Bahamas, next to the plot where Daniel is buried. He died in September while visiting his mother, who had just had a baby.

Stern filed an emergency petition this week stating that, under Bahamian law, he should have custody of the body because he is the executor of her estate.

The executor is authorized to set up and oversee a trust on behalf of Smith's beneficiaries, and to make investments.

Stern and Smith's baby, 6-month-old Dannielynn, are in the Bahamas, where the child was born three days before Daniel's death.

Seidlin on Friday ordered Stern to appear at a Tuesday hearing to take up the burial issue. His lawyer, Krista Barth, argued unsuccessfully to have Stern appear by video phone from the Bahamas, where he is caring for Dannielynn.

A decision about releasing Smith's body for burial isn't likely until next week.

Meanwhile, a court-appointed administrator, Shane Kelley, was to interview the parties and recommend to the judge who should receive Smith's remains.

Seidlin also appointed a guardian, Miami attorney Richard Milstein, to protect Dannielynn's interests.

Smith died February 8 after collapsing at a Florida casino hotel. The cause of her death has not been determined. Seminole Indian Reservation police are still investigating. (Watch plans for Anna Nicole's burial dress come out in court Video)

In her will, which was made public by the Broward County court Friday, Smith left everything to her son Daniel and named Stern as executor. The document is dated July 30, 2001, more than five years before Daniel's death and Dannielynn's birth.

The 16-page will was never updated. The document is signed "Vickie Lynn Marshall," her legal name at the time. (Read the will -- pdf)

Further complicating the legal problems, some language in the will seems to exclude any of Smith's future spouses or children.

Yet in other sections, it refers to Smith's "children," instructing the executor, for example, to manage the estate "such that my children are distributed sufficient sums for their health, education and support."

The stakes are huge -- perhaps $88 million or more. Smith's heir or heirs stand to inherit a stake in her longstanding claim to the fortune of her late husband, Texas oil baron J. Howard Marshall II.

In a separate but related legal battle, Smith's former lover, Larry Birkhead, is seeking a paternity test to prove he is Dannielynn's father.

Birkhead and Stern each claim to be the girl's father. Stern's name is on the birth certificate. (Watch CNN's Jeff Toobin try to untangle the legal mess Video)

Two more men -- Smith's former bodyguard, Alexander Denk, and Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband Frederic von Anhalt -- have said they could be the fathers. Von Anhalt filed court papers seeking a paternity test on Thursday.

CNN's Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.

Copyright 2007 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Anna Nicole Smith with Howard K. Stern and baby Dannielynn.



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