A recent post by fellow estate planning attorney, Greg Turza offered an interesting commentary illustrating the need to clearly identify who your heirs are. I hope you find this an interesting story about this famous author and his death without a will.
Stieg Larsson, the author of the best selling novel “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (now a movie), died in 2004 without a will. His heirs are still fighting it out with Larsson’s live-in girlfriend of 32 years. She and Larsson never married which leaves Larsson’s heirs as the sole beneficiaries of his estate.
Swedish law is the same as many states on this issue. If you die with no spouse and no children your heirs are your siblings and your parents. In Larsson’s case this means his father and his brother. Apparently, the basis for the girlfriend’s claim is that she was involved in the editing of his novels. For more details see the story here.
You may be surprised to see who your “heirs” are if you died without a will. It depends on the relationships you have by blood or marriage who survive you. To determine who your heirs are under our state laws, you might want to spend a quick hour with me to get up to speed on this.
One other interesting aspect of the case is that all three of Larsson’s novels were published after he died so the value of his estate at the time of his death was probably nil. But as it turns out, even if he had great wealth at the time of his death Sweden repealed its estate tax in the same year of his death, 2004! If only the United States would follow suit.
If Steig Larsson had spent an afternoon with me, he would have avoided many of these problems. And the lives of his heirs would have been considerably less stressful. If you want to avoid Steig Larsson’s fate, please contact me, and let’s meet. If you’d like to read Larsson’s trilogy, you can find it here: Millennium Trilogy.