Revered actor Chadwick Boseman passed away on August 28 (2020) after a battle with colon cancer. The Black Panther star, 43, “died intestate,” meaning without a legal will.
On Thursday (10/15), Boseman’s widow, Taylor Simone Ledward filed a probate case in Los Angeles, asking a judge to make her an administrator with limited authority of his estate. Boseman and Ledward quietly married before his death. The pair started dating before Boseman was diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago and reportedly got engaged last year.
Boseman’s estate is reportedly valued at $938,500, but sadly Ledward will have to go through hoops to use any of it because there’s no will in place. Besides Ledward, the only other family members listed in the docs are his parents, Leroy and Carolyn Boseman.
According to FindLaw, there are several important reasons why we should create a will. Protecting yourself and your family should be your number one priority. Not only can a will legally protect your spouse, children, and assets, it can also spell out exactly how you would like things handled after you have passed on.
While each person’s situation varies, here are eight reasons why you should have a will.
1) You decide how your estate will be distributed. A will is a legally-binding document that lets you determine how you would like your estate to be handled upon your death. If you die without a will, there is no guarantee that your intended desires will be carried out.
2) You decide who will take care of your children. A will allows you to make an informed decision about who should take care of minor children. Absent a will, the court will take it upon itself to choose among family members or a state-appointed guardian.
3) To avoid a lengthy probate process. Contrary to common belief, all estates must go through the probate process, with or without a will. However, having a will speeds up the probate process and informs the court how you’d like your estate divided. Probate courts serve the purpose of “administering your estate.” When you die without a will (known as dying “intestate”), the court will decide how to divide the estate without your input, which can also cause long, unnecessary delays.
4) Minimize estate taxes. A will allows you to minimize your estate taxes. The value of what you give away to family members or charity will reduce your estate’s value when it’s time to pay estate taxes.
5) You decide who will handle the affairs of your estate. Executors make sure all your affairs are in order, including paying off bills, canceling your credit cards, and notifying the bank and other business establishments. Because executors play the most significant role in the administration of your estate, you’ll want to be sure to appoint someone honest, trustworthy, and organized.
6) You can disinherit individuals who would otherwise stand to inherit. Most people do not realize they can disinherit individuals out of their will. Yes, you may wish to disinherit individuals who may otherwise inherit your estate if you die without a will. Because wills specifically outline how you would like your estate distributed, absent a will, your estate may end up in the hands of someone you did not intend (such as an ex-spouse with whom you had a bitter divorce).
7) Make gifts and donations. Making gifts is a good reason to have a will because it allows your legacy to live on and reflect your personal values and interests. Also, donations up to $13,000 are excluded from estate tax, so you’re also increasing the value of your estate for your heirs and beneficiaries to enjoy. Be sure to check the current laws.
8) Because tomorrow is not promised. Procrastination and the unwillingness to accept death as part of life are common reasons for not having a will. Sometimes the realization that wills are necessary comes too late – such as when an unexpected death or disability occurs. To avoid the added stress on families during an already emotional time, it may be wise to meet with an estate planning lawyer to help you draw up a basic estate plan at the minimum before it’s too late.