Where is Anna Nicole's lawyer Howard K. Stern now?

The world was infatuated with Anna Nicole Smith in the 90s, and that popularity carried over to her faithful sidekick, lawyer Howard K. Stern. Smith modeled for big brands like Guess and H&M, and even appeared in Playboy, but her name didn't truly reach its peak of recognition until after the premiere of her own reality show. Throughout her career, Howard K. Stern, her lawyer and trusted friend, was often by her side — but he remained out of the limelight until The Anna Nicole Show first premiered in 2002.

Even though it only ran for three seasons, fans became mesmerized by Smith's crazy antics on camera with her son Daniel, assistant Kimmy, and Stern. While he seemed to play the more reasonable character on the show, it was clear Stern and Smith had a connection that ran much deeper than friendship. Now that so much time has passed since Smith's death in 2007, fans are starting to wonder what happened to Stern — and what he's been up to since the passing of his long-time partner.

How the two met

At the height of Smith's modeling career, she made headlines after marrying 89-year-old billionaire J. Howard Marshall II in 1994. While Smith adamantly denied being a gold digger, few believed the stunning blonde bombshell truly loved the elderly man, and the fact that he was worth approximately $500 million according to People didn't help. As many predicted, when Marshall passed away just a little over a year later, Smith started going after the man's cash.

Unfortunately Smith wasn't included in her husband's will, forcing her to go to court to fight for what she believed was rightfully hers. Asking for part of the man's $1.6 billion estate resulted in one of Smith's first run-ins with Howard K. Stern, as he worked for the law firm that handled her modeling contracts and ended up presenting her direct examination at the trial — according to People, one that dragged on for over a decade and continued on her behalf after her death.

By the time The Anna Nicole Show premiered, the law firm Stern was working for had been dissolved, and he had started a new venture. As Stern began filming for the show he also started a talent agency called Hot Smoochie Lips, Inc. where Smith was his only client. From this position, he controlled just about every part of her life.

Not everyone saw Stern as Smith's trustworthy companion, however. Bobby Trendy, who appeared on the show as Smith's interior decorator, was clear about his feelings toward Stern, and later went on to call the lawyer "a coattail-riding ambulance chaser" in an interview with The Village Voice.

A wedding, a death and a custody battle

In the fall of 2006, Stern accompanied Smith and her newborn daughter Dannielynn to the Bahamas where they were married in a commitment ceremony. According to MTV, the two tied the knot on a yacht off the coast of Nassau just weeks after her daughter was born. At the time, the public was led to believe Stern was the child's father, which he announced on Larry King Live. Many began to speculate the two only married so that Smith's former lover Larry Birkhead, who was claiming to be Dannielynn's biological father, couldn't file a paternity suit.

Just a few months after her impromptu wedding to Stern, Anna Nicole Smith was found unresponsive in her hotel room, and was later pronounced dead at the hospital. Her death lead to an intense paternity battle between Stern and Birkhead. According to People, Stern was listed as the father on Dannielynn's birth certificate but a DNA test later proved that Birkhead is actually the biological father. Regardless of what Smith's intentions were when she chose to tell the world Stern was Dannielynn's father, this was likely another devastating blow for him after losing his longtime friend and lover.

Stern still spends time with Dannielynn

Nearly ten years after Smith's death, Stern has made sure to stay in Dannielynn's life. Even though he is no longer playing the father role, according to Access Hollywood Live, Stern is known to Dannielynn as a good friend of her mother's. Birkhead revealed in a recent interview that, "(Dannielynn) does know Howard; she knows that he was mum's friend. Beyond that, he and I are friendly and we work together on estate things all the time… and he's been really supportive."

While this might surprise many people who followed the paternity suit that seemed to create a rivalry between the two, Birkhead claims that couldn't be further from the truth. He said, "I think people think that because of all the craziness that went down… that he and I are arch-rivals… I was just looking out for my daughter, so to have any grudges beyond that would mean there were some other intention on my behalf."

Stern was blamed for Smith's death

It wasn't bad enough that Stern lost custody of Dannielynn and was still grieving from the death of both Anna Nicole and her son Daniel, but to make matters worse, much of the blame for their deaths continues to fall on his shoulders. Today provided the details of Smith's death, saying it was due to an accidental overdose of at least nine prescription drugs. She'd been extremely ill, suffering from a stomach flu, and had been mixing medications for that as well as depression, anxiety, and sleep deprivation. Her refusal to go to the hospital is what ultimately lead to her demise, but understandably she did not want to deal with the media frenzy that would occur if she left her hotel room.

In 2009, Fox News reported that Stern, along with two doctors, were charged with several felony counts of conspiracy and other charges related to fraudulent prescriptions — Stern was faced with six charges, and each doctor faced seven. It had been discovered that the three of them provided Smith with thousands of prescriptions during the years leading up to her death. Of the 11 prescription drugs found in the hotel room where Smith spent her last night, most of them were written to Stern and none were actually prescribed to Smith. Additionally, over 600 pills (including 450 muscle relaxants) were missing from the bottles, most of which had only been filled five weeks earlier.

His court battle took a long time

Stern's day in court over Smith's death stretched into years. According to E! News, in 2010 he was convicted of conspiring to use fake names as well as using false pretenses to get prescription drugs. The charges were dropped five years later in 2015, as Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry told reporters, "Howard Stern simply has been through enough … I find there is no reason to permit this case to go forward." He also blamed the charges and the lengthy court process on the fact that Stern was a public figure and he was being used as an example.

Stern is still handling Smith's estate

After Smith's death, Stern was put in control of her estate, which included her California home worth nearly $2 million. According to the NBC Los Angeles, it took six years for the courts to approve sale of her home, which Stern first put on the market for $1.75 million. The home, which was featured on Smith's reality television show, was sold in 2013 for $1.3 million, years after Smith's death and after several years on the market with no interested buyers. Her five bedroom house featured five and a half baths, marble floors, granite counter tops and panoramic views of Los Angeles. Stern has gone on record to say that all of the profits from this sale will be put aside for Dannielynn.

Stern continues the fight for Smith's inheritance

Stern is also part of the continued legal battle for the money promised to Smith when her ex-husband Marshall died, working as administrator of her estate. Throughout this twenty year legal battle, Smith has continued to be denied the money that she felt was rightfully hers (even after her passing), however Stern is still fighting on her behalf to this day. Like the money received from the sale of Smith's house, this money would also be put away until Dannielynn is of legal age. According to Forbes, all sanctions against Smith were reversed just last summer. These sanctions were ordered in the amount of $500,000 for frivolous challenges to her late husband's will, but no longer need to be paid.

This ruling has given Stern the opportunity to appeal any decisions made in regards to Marshall's estate. If he chooses to do so, it's now possible for him to file a claim against J. Howard Marshall's son, Pierce Marshall, for interfering with Smith's inheritance. Since the Texas courts have ruled against Smith's estate receiving any of her ex-husband's money, this might be the final chance for Stern to win even a portion of the inheritance Smith was promised.

Stern is still a lawyer

Stern might have tried his hand at being a talent agent, but it's clear that being a lawyer is his true calling. Despite everything he's been through since Smith's passing, he still managed to stay successful within his career, and has made it into the list of the top ten richest lawyers in the world in 2016. According to the Gazette Review, he came in at number ten with a net worth of $500,000. Far from the $1.1 billion net worth of the number one lawyer on the list, Stern likely owes much of his success to his relationship with Smith. He is still an active lawyer in the state of California but has spent more time defending himself than others in recent years due to his pending charges and legal issues.

He seems to be single

Regardless of his success, Stern seems to have remained single since the passing of Smith. At 48-years-old, he has no biological children and has only been married once, briefly to Smith right before she died. Since becoming a widower, he has shown no indication that he has a new woman in his life. After dedicating nearly half of his life to Smith and her children, both before and after her death, it's understandable if Stern is having trouble moving on. When he's ready however, it's unlikely he'll be able to hide it from the paparazzi and the media very long.