Tag Archives: die without a will

Robert Holmes a Court’s big mistake

robert holmes a courtHis mistake is one people continue to make throughout the world.  They don’t make a will and die intestate.  About 50% of people say that they don’t have the time, don’t think they need one, don’t know how to get started, it’s too gruesome a topic to think about, they’re not going to die yet….or offer up many other excuses.

Robert Holmes a Court, who had built a $2 billion empire in Australia in the 1980’s, died suddenly at age 53 without a will.  Legend has it that he carried a will around in his briefcase for years…unsigned.  Regardless of whether this is true or not, what is a fact is that, because he did not have a valid will,  the legal wrangling to settle his estate took almost 20 years to resolve, seriously straining family relations in the process.

Two other blogs we found also discuss some of the problems that can occur if you don’t take the time to make a will.



There are two facts you can’t change:

1) You ARE going to die.

2) If you don’t have a will, the government will decide what happens to your estate.

If you have a $2 billion empire like Robert Holmes a Court, it may take you awhile to draft a will and the other documents you will need to protect your assets and ensure that they will be distributed the way you want them to be.  If you have an estate that is a little smaller, a simple will can be drawn up and executed very quickly.

Don’t let the government make important decisions about your estate for you.  Make the time and get your will prepared now.

For more information about dying intestate and will preparation, go to DieSmart.com.

Common mistakes when writing a will

Business ClipartEveryone is going to die; that’s a fact.  And everyone should have a will.  That’s another fact.  If you die without a will, the probate court will decide what happens to  your assets; you won’t.

My father died about 15 years ago.  He left a will he had prepared himself, typed on his old electric typewriter and had a few friends sign as witnesses.  I don’t know how he decided what to put in the will and the wording to use.  All I know is that after he died, when I tried to probate the will, there were some problems with it and it took a while to get them resolved.

If you don’t want to go to an attorney to have a will prepared that you know will be written properly, you should at least be aware of some common mistakes that you should avoid.

I recently came across a blog on findlaw.com that clearly describes 10 of the most common mistakes.  You should definitely read it so you don’t make the same mistakes my dad did.

For further information about wills, trusts, probate and end of life planning go to www.diesmart.com.

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 Larry in his will and named Larry beneficiary of his life insurance policy.  When his father died, Larry inherited the house and Susan and Larry continued to live in the house.  Larry promised to deposit the check from the insurance company into their joint bank 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 or a trust 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.