Tag Archives: die without a will

Are your loved ones protected when you die?

last-will  Larry and Susan had been living together for more than 20 years.  They never legally married; they said once had been enough.  A piece of paper wouldn’t change how they felt about each other.  Larry had been married before and had two sons.  Susan had also been married previously and she had a daughter.

When Larry’s father became incapacitated, they moved into his house to take care of him.  His father, to thank them for all they’d done, left the house to both of them in his will and named Larry beneficiary of his life insurance policy.  When his father died, both Larry and Susan inherited the house and Larry promised to deposit the check from the insurance company into their joint account as soon as it arrived.

As Larry was crossing the street on his way home from work one day, he was struck by a car driven by a drunk driver and he died almost instantly.

Larry didn’t have a will and had not left any legal document naming Susan as his heir.  They lived in a state that did not recognize common law marriage so, when he died, his sons inherited everything.  They forced Susan to move out of the house and refused to give her any of the proceeds from the life insurance policy.  In essence, Susan was left with almost nothing!

Families today are very complex.  Some are the traditional married mother and father in their first marriage.  Many more are couples who were previously married to other spouses or who are legally married gay couples.  However, many people live together without benefit of a legal ceremony. This mixture of circumstances makes inheritance much more difficult and complex.

The only way to be sure your loved ones are protected is to prepare a will naming the person(s) you want to inherit your assets when you die.  Otherwise, state law will dictate who receives what.  Not you. It’s frightening that more than half of the people living in the United States today do not have a will and have not protected their loved ones. You can find a simple will form on the internet or can meet with an estate planning attorney to discuss the options that are best for you.

Don’t be like Larry.  Act now so those you love will be protected when you’re gone. For more information about wills and estate planning, go to www.diesmart.com.

Stieg Larsson died with no will

Stieg Larsson, the man who wrote the milenium trilogy including the novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, died suddenly in 2004 at the age of 50. At the time of his death, he was not yet famous and he was living modestly with his partner, Eva Gabrielsson. In fact, they had been living together in Sweden for 32 years.

Larsson spent his career investigating rightwing extremism and received many death threats. He feared that getting married would make them an even bigger target. Despite that, he and Eva finally set a date for the ceremony but Larsson died before it could take place.

The couple had talked about setting up a company in which the two of them would share all of their assets as well as any money earned for writing books and articles. The company would provide that if one of them died, the other one would get everything. Because of this plan, Larsson felt that a will would be unnecessary and so never prepared one. But the company was not set up before Larsson’s death.

Sweden has no provision in their law for inheritance by common-law spouses so when Larsson died without a will, his brother and father inherited everything he owned, including the rights to his books and the profits that the 50 million copies sold made.

In 2007, the family gave Gabrielsson ownership of the modest apartment in which she and Larsson had lived and offered her $2.75 million. She turned down the offer because she wants control of the estate so she can manage the handling of the books, including movie and other publication rights. There is a partial manuscript for a 4th book in the series; since she supposedly helped Larsson write the trilogy and the manuscript is in her possession, she could finish the novel but she refuses to hand it over to Larsson’s family.

If only Larsson had written a will, settlement of the estate could have been handled smoothly and in a timely manner. Instead, in 2012 (more than 8 years later), the dispute is still going on.

Don’t put yourself in this position. Make sure you have a will so your estate will go to the person you want it to….not the one the government dictates. For more information about this topic, go to diesmart.com.