People often assume that only wealthy people need to have a will. Not only is that untrue, but also, people of all income brackets sometimes neglect to create an estate plan that outlines how their assets should be distributed. Reports recently hit the news that the late actor Chadwick Boseman’s estate will now be the subject of a probate case, as he died earlier this year here in California without having left a will.
Boseman, aged 43, died this past summer after fighting colon cancer. His wife now reports that he died intestate, which means that he did not have a will. She has recently filed a case for probate and asked the court to grant her the authority to administer of his estate.
Although it is likely that his wife will inherit most of his assets after his estate goes through probate, there are other possibilities he and others like him could have chosen. For example, Boseman’s parents are still living and he has two brothers. In a similar situation, some people may have wanted to leave assets to other family members in addition to, or even in place of, a spouse.
Boseman’s estate is estimated to be worth over $900,000. There is no word on whether he may have had any assets that were not subject to the probate process. Having a will could have addressed the distribution of all of his assets, and a comprehensive estate plan could also contain medical directives, requests for charitable distributions, end-of-life care and burial preferences.
Though it is difficult to make assumptions about Boseman’s particular situation, his passing without a will can serve as a reminder to others of how important it is to have an estate plan. Probate is a necessary part of the process here in California and elsewhere, but having a comprehensive estate plan prepared by an experienced attorney can help one’s heirs significantly. It can be a wonderful gift during a time of great sadness.