This is my second discussion on this topic. The actor, Chadwick Boseman, (Black Panther, Ma Rainey), passed away from colon cancer in 2020 at a relatively young age. He had recently married and after his passing, we learned he did not have any planning documents in place.
Apparently, he kept the nature and severity of his illness private as he was an exceedingly private person. He passed with an estate valued at approximately $4 million. How do we know this? Probate is a PUBLIC process. If you wish to keep your assets and distribution wishes “private,” then having the proper planning documents in place is essential. When we don’t, the “who and how much” is available as a matter of public record in our county’s probate court.
Any assets in his name only and without a named beneficiary (probate assets) passed via the intestacy laws of CA (like the laws in MA on this matter) – ½ to his spouse and ½ to his surviving parents (he did not have any children with his wife or from another relationship). Is this what he would have wanted? We don’t know because he didn’t document his wishes in a Will. Luckily everyone gets along and there doesn’t seem to be any acrimony…acrimony is expensive and eats away at the remaining estate assets as the parties fight it out, nonetheless, the process took two years!
As a private person, had he created and funded a trust, we would not have known what his assets were or who gets them after his passing. Lastly, his estate was reduced by up to $1 million due to probate and other fees related to settling an intestate (no Will) estate.
The state we live in has designed a plan for each of us unless we work with an estate planning attorney and design one of our own choosing. It’s our choice which one we want to be operable when we pass away. “Let’s leave love behind…not logistics.” (quote from Amy Picard – Good to Go!)