This one document could have helped his estate avoid probate.
- After years in probation, the deceased actor’s estate will be divided equally by his widow and parents.
- A will directs assets after a person’s death, which avoids an expensive trial process.
- The actor may have mistakenly assumed that he would have transferred assets to his wife.
This week, it came to light that the late Chadwick Boseman’s estate had lost almost a quarter of its value in settlement costs, largely due to one missing document: a will. After the actor’s departure, Boseman’s assets went through an expensive trial process, which reduced his estate by almost $ 1 million.
Boseman’s estate settlement
After losing his battle with colon cancer in 2020, Chadwick Boseman left a nearly $ 4 million estate. The only problem? The actor did not draw up a will to manage his assets. That common mistake sent his estate into a process called probate, where the state determines who receives what of your assets.
Nearly two years and a $ 900,000 probation later, we finally have an idea of how his assets will be distributed to his surviving heirs. Boseman’s widow, Simone Ledward-Boseman, and Boseman’s parents will share the estate evenly, with each inheriting $ 1.15 million.
Why does a will matter?
A final will and will, or will, is a legal document that governs the assets of a deceased person. When properly prepared and executed, a will ensures that a decedent’s wishes are followed in dividing the estate. When considering why a will is so important, it can be helpful to look at what happens when a deceased person does not have one in place.
As can be seen from the above story, a will can prevent hefty legal costs after death. When a person dies without a will in place, they are deemed to have died “intestate” and their estate goes through a process called probate. The trial process can be incredibly long and incredibly expensive, as assets are distributed through a court proceeding. Each state has different rules when it comes to intestination, and it is used to guide court decisions and ultimately determine where assets end up. The trial process typically lasts between one and two years, and costs between 4% and 7% of the total estate.
A common misconception
It is very likely that Chadwick Boseman became the victim of one of the many misconceptions surrounding estate planning. His marriage to Simone Ledward-Boseman came just one year before his death, so he may have believed his estate was healthy in the event of a premature death.
In fact, marriage is not a substitute for a will. Married couples enjoy many benefits in the U.S. legal system, including being treated as a family unit in many ways. This does not mean that assets are automatically transferred to a surviving spouse in the event of death. Intestate death leads to probate regardless of marital status. As seen in Boseman’s case, an inheritance court can then assign a portion of or the entire estate to heirs other than the widowed spouse.
Like many Americans today, Chadwick Boseman did not have a properly prepared will when he tragically died in 2020. This general supervision cost his heirs almost a quarter of his estate and serves as a warning about the dangers of an improperly prepared estate plan.
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