You don’t normally find celebrity gossip at Get Rich Slowly, and for good reason: I’m completely out of touch with pop culture. (Plus there’s the fact that this is a personal finance blog, I guess.) But the January death of 28-year-old actor Heath Ledger highlights the need for even young adults to consider basic estate planning. According to The New York Times:
Heath Ledger’s will left nothing to his former girlfriend and their 2-year-old daughter because it was filed in Australia in 2003 and never updated after they became part of his life, The Associated Press reported. A copy of the will, filed in Manhattan Surrogate’s Court, shows that Mr. Ledger, a native of Australia, left everything to his parents and three sisters
Ledger’s family has indicated that they will make certain to provide for his former girlfriend, Michelle Williams, and their daughter, Matilda Rose. But it might not have ended like this. The Ledgers are under no legal obligation to do anything with the money other than keep it.
Wills are not just for senior citizens. “The importance of an up-to-date will cannot be overstated,” writes David Chilton in The Wealthy Barber. Wills give clear, legal instructions regarding your intentions. Verbally expressing your wishes isn’t enough. A will is crucial even for those with modest assets.
I normally mention wills and estate planning only once a year — on Halloween.
- In 2006 I shared a brief guide to creating will.
- Last fall I gave a brief overview of estate planning software.
Ledger’s untimely death provides a sober reminder that proper estate planning is an important part of everybody’s personal finances.