LAWFUEL – While the fighting over Anna Nicole’s burial and her dau…

LAWFUEL – While the fighting over Anna Nicole’s burial and her daughter continue, the real, behind-the-scenes issue is the money.

For instance: Whoever controls the body controls the funeral? And whoever controls the funeral gets the big money – perhaps $1 million, Hollywood Today claim – that goes with video rights. And that’s before arguments over book and TV deals, such as that already secured by Judge Larry Seidlin.

But even that doesn’t count in the big picture that is Anna Nicole’s death-after-life career. The same magazine estimates that her legacy has already passed $10 million, including the house in the Bahamas (asking up to $10 million).

But nor does that count the big one. Because in case anyone had forgotten, Anna Nicole Smith married Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II in 1994 when he was 89 and she was 26. Anna Nicole’s been fighting for the $500-plus estate since 1995 and whoever gets to control her corpse and offspring also get to pick up the reins on the estate proceedings.

“There can be no other reason, no other thing going on than the race to open the estate,” said observing defense attorney Geoffrey Fieger, “Because whoever does can file the claim against Marshall’s estate. The entire thing boils down to this and all the lawyers know it. The Supreme Court of the United States granted the rights for Smith rights to go after the Marshall estate again, and that’s no small thing. Everyone else will have to stand in line behind whoever opens the estate.”

Forget the teary-eyed judges, attorneys and attorney-lovers. It’s the money that’s making their eyes water.

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