It seems like once per year, there is a celebrity death where we all discover that the celebrity never made an estate plan. Then, headlines of family in-fighting ensue. We may now see this with Chadwick Boseman, perhaps, most famous for his portrayal of Marvel’s Black Panther.
The 43-year-old Black Panther star died without a will or an estate plan generally. Mr. Boseman died two months ago after a battle with colon cancer that lasted nearly four years. This is similar to what happened after Prince passed as he did not leave a will or any legal instructions for his $300 million estate before he passed in 2016.
What happens now?
Unfortunately, this means that the fate of his estate will largely be left up to the probate court. Currently, his wife, Simone Ledward, has asked the probate court to name her as the estate administrator with at least some limited authority to control the estate.
His estate is currently valued at about $1,000,000. Though, that value will likely fluctuate once experts are brought in to determine the value of his media rights, properties and other financial accounts.
Is probate court always needed?
No. Not all of the estate will require probate intervention. Financial instruments, like qualified retirement accounts (think, 401(k)s and IRAs), life insurance and payable on death accounts will pass down onto their elected beneficiaries without the probate court’s intervention. In fact, a bit over $11,000,000 can be passed tax-free to beneficiaries in 2020.
What can we learn?
At a minimum, craft a will, but if able, craft an entire estate plan. After all, estate planning is not just for the wealthy. Realistically, the amount of assets one currently owns has little bearing on whether an estate plan is needed. Indeed, estate planning is not just about who gets what, it is also about how one wants to pass, who should make medical decisions and what one wants to happen to their body once they go. None of these decision have anything to do with the value of one’s home. Although, for the sake of one’s beneficiaries, it would also be wise to consider this as well.
Each time someone we love passes without a will and we see the chaos this can cause, it teaches us that we need an estate plan. For McMinnville, Tennessee, residents, this means contacting an estate planning attorney immediately.