Black Panther Star Reportedly Died Without a Will

Naperville estate planning lawyerThe entertainment world was shaken in August when Chadwick Boseman, the Oscar-nominated star of Marvel’s Black Panther, died following a four-year battle with colon cancer. Boseman’s death came as a surprise to fans around the world because the 43-year-old actor chose to keep his diagnosis private, even as he continued to work.

Playing the role of a superhero in the Marvel Universe, Boseman has largely been seen as a source of inspiration to people around the world, but it turns out that his story also highlights a serious mistake to avoid in terms of protecting assets. According to reports and court records, Boseman died without a will, which means a significant portion of his estate will need to go through the process of probate before it can be transferred to his family.

Wife Files Petition to Be Appointed Estate Administrator

Last month, various news outlets reported that Chadwick Boseman’s wife Simone Ledward filed a probate case in Los Angeles County Court asking to be named the administrator of the deceased actor’s estate with limited authority. According to court filings, Ledward placed an estimate on Boseman’s estate at around $938,500. In addition to his wife, Boseman is also survived by his parents, who are also listed in the filing.

The estimated value of the estate does not necessarily include all of Boseman’s assets. The amount submitted to the court only represents the portion of the estate that must pass through probate. Assets with named beneficiaries, as well as most assets held in trusts, are generally exempt from probate. It is unclear if Boseman had any such assets.

Why Estate Planning Matters

Chadwick Boseman is far from the first celebrity to die without a will in place. A few years ago, music legend Prince died with no estate plan, and Aretha Franklin reportedly had three confusing handwritten wills found in her home following her death in 2018. Even the founder of the Marvel Universe himself, Stan Lee, reportedly left behind a mess of an estate plan.

Today, less than 50 percent of American adults self-report having an estate plan of any kind in place. In fact, some studies have found that only one-third of people say they have a will. Many who do not have a plan generally report that they do not believe they really need one. Others, however, acknowledge that they have simply not gotten around to making one.

When a person dies with no estate plan in place, the biggest negative effect is uncertainty. The person’s assets are left to the probate court to divide, which means that most of the control is taken away from the decedent’s family. All states, including Illinois, have rules regarding how the court will pass down assets in the absence of an estate plan, but most such rules use flat percentages, which leave many unanswered questions. For example, if you die without a will in Illinois, and you leave behind a spouse and two children, your spouse will receive half of your estate and your children will receive the other half. It will be up to the court-appointed administrator—also called the executor—to figure out how to divide your estate in half. If you had created an estate plan, these questions could have been addressed well in advance.

Ready to Get Started? We Can Help

If you are interested in creating an estate plan, one of our experienced Naperville estate planning attorneys at the Gierach Law Firm can help. We will provide the guidance you need and assist you in choosing the right tools to serve your family’s needs for years to come. Call 630-756-1160 to schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our team today.



Illinois Probate Act of 1975

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