Death Preceded Fame—’Girl with theDragon Tattoo’ Author Had Invalid Will
The author, Stieg Larsson, was a Swedish journalist who
died in 2004 of a heart attack. He was not famous or rich at
the time. But of course, you needn’t be a wealthy author to
justify putting solid estate planning in place.
Posthumous Publishing Sensation
Larsson reported on far-right extremists, edited a
magazine, and penned science fiction short stories. When
he died, he left behind three finished crime novels that
were published posthumously as the “Millennium” series.
These books made the late Larsson an international writing
sensation — though he was not around to enjoy it.
In 2008, it was announced that Larsson had written a Will
in 1977, leaving his assets, including future publishing
royalties, to Sweden’s socialist party.
His personal belongings and writings were to go to his
longtime companion, Eva Gabrielsson. But the Will was
never witnessed and was invalid under Swedish law.
Never Married Companion of 32 Years
As such, Larsson’s entire estate passed to his brother and
father instead of Gabrielsson — his companion of 32 years.
The couple never married because in Sweden, couples
must register a public document with their home address.
Because of Larsson’s work as an investigative journalist,
he received frequent death threats, and so they decided
against marriage out of concern for safety.
He loved Gabrielsson a great deal according to a letter she
shared earlier this year in a Vanity Fair article
(http://tinyurl.com/6wjz8rq). The letter was found with his
Will in an envelope labeled, “To Be Opened Only After
My Death.” It’s a powerfully written declaration of loyalty
and a testament to the enduring love between them.
Other news articles have detailed the legal battle between
Gabrielsson and Larsson’s father and brother over what has
grown to a $30 million estate. The family reportedly
offered her $3.3 million, but she declined, saying she only
wants the right to publish his works as he wanted.
Wealth Happens, Plan Accordingly
Larsson failed to protect Gabrielsson’s interests in his
estate. I doubt that he wanted to leave her with nothing. He
is not the first author whose works created a sensation
after death. And while he couldn’t have anticipated his
eventual fame and fortune, a valid Will would have made
disbursing his considerable assets much simpler.
Lesson for Clients
Sometimes an estate can unexpectedly grow after death.
Unpublished manuscripts, artwork and even certain
businesses can exponentially increase in value. Solid estate
planning documents — including a valid Will — can
prevent most legal fights between heirs and make the final
wishes of the originator crystal clear to a court of law.
To get more information regarding this or any related topic, please visit our website www.TEPLG.com or call us at 630-871-8778.
Tags: estate planning