Friday, April 4, 2008

Heath Ledger

I happened across an article about Heath Ledger yesterday and it brought me back to a question I was asked a while back. "What would have happened if Heath had died in Illinois?" Well the answer to that is nothing different than what happened when he died in New York, because he was an Australian resident, Australian Will, mostly Australian property, etc. However, what if Heath had lived in Illinois and had an Illinois Will? Well, the legislature addressed his daughter Matlida's problem with 755 ILCS 5/4‑10 (from Ch. 110 1/2, par. 4‑10), Sec. 4‑10. Effect of child born after will.

"Unless provision is made in the will for a child of the testator born after the will is executed or unless it appears by the will that it was the intention of the testator to disinherit the child, the child is entitled to receive the portion of the estate to which he would be entitled if the testator died intestate and all legacies shall abate proportionately therefor."

So, unless Heath expressly disinherited after-born children in his Will (or it appeared that was his intention), Matlida would inherit and the other legacies (in this case to his parents and siblings) would abate. Michelle would not be so lucky, as the legislature affords no special protection to ex-fiancee's, so hopefully she has some of that Dawson's Creek money stashed away.

Why would anyone disinherit after-born children you may ask? Anna Nicole did...but did she mean to? For an excellent discussion on that topic from the Death and Taxes Blog, click this link.

So, how does one avoid this problem altogether? It's quite simple actually, careful drafting. Instead of leaving my estate to my son Daniel (as in Anna Nicole's case), how about "I leave my entire estate to my descendants who survive me, per stirpes" or "I leave my entire estate to my children who survive me, per stirpes." A little planning and forethought go a long way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why would someone disinherit afterborn childred? I guess if I knew I had made dozens of deposits down at the local seed bank, I might want to protect my then living children.