Actor Anton Yelchin, best known for his role as Chekov in the revamped Stark Trek movies, died tragically in an accident on June 19, 2016. Mr. Yelchin, left behind a sizable $1.4 million estate and no will. He follows other notable celebrities like Prince and Amy Winehouse who suddenly passed on leaving substantial estates, but no estate plan.
Mr. Yelchin was only 27 years old, but he had at least $641,000 in personal property and had $731,000 in equity in his home, according to the Associated Press. His parents filed to become administrators of his estate in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Our deepest sympathies go out to Mr. Yelchin’s parents. Losing a child is a gut-wrenching experience no child should have to endure. Unfortunately, their stress was likely exacerbated learning that there was no will, trust, or any other estate plan for their son. Mr. Yelchin was not married and had no children, so the laws of intestate succession will control and the family will have to deal with the probate process.
Below is a news report on the unfortunate passing of Mr. Yelchin:
Intestate succession of your assets depend on whether you have living children, parents, and/or other close relatives when you pass on. For example, under Virginia intestate succession laws, if you are survived by a spouse and children, your spouse inherits everything. However, if you are survived by a spouse and at least one child is from someone other than the surviving spouse, then one-third of your assets pass on to your spouse and the remainder goes to your children. In Maryland, on the other hand, if you are survived by a spouse and minor children, your estate is divided equally between your spouse and your minor children. However, if you are survived by your spouse and adult children, your spouse only inherits $15,000 worth of your intestate property and half of the balance while your adult children inherit the remainder.
A prime of just how contentious passing away intestate (i.e. no will) can be, look at the legal battle over Prince’s estate. Over 30 people claimed to be children, siblings or distant relatives of Prince in order to qualify for a portion of his estimated $250 million estate. A judge had to order genetic testing for six individuals to determine whether they qualify as heirs, according to People.com. As you can see, when there is no estate plan in place, squabbles and disagreements can arise that then escalate to court battles. You do not want to leave your loved ones left wondering what you wanted and are forced to battle it out in court.
Do Not Ignore Your Estate
I know I have written this time and again, but it bears repeating – take the time to create an estate plan. It does not matter how old you are or the size of your estate. It does not matter if you are singled or married. It does not matter if you have no children, or multiple children. An estate plan is about providing peace of mind and security to your loved ones. It gives them a road map for how you want your estate to be managed. Check out my blog article on the act of love that is estate planning.
Sit down with an experienced estate planning attorney today to discuss your estate.