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.