Pennsylvania fans of actor Chadwick Boseman might be surprised to learn that he died without a will. Boseman was diagnosed with cancer in 2016 and died in August 2020. His wife listed the value of his estate as $938,500 when she filed to be named administrator. The other two surviving closest next of kin are his parents.
Other celebrities without wills
It is not uncommon for celebrities to die without a will or other estate plan in place. When the musician Prince died, multiple individuals who said they were related created further confusion. In other cases, celebrities’ estate planning was insufficient. For example, Aretha Franklin wrote three wills but they were not all legible. Comics creator Stan Lee also failed to get a clear and effective estate plan in place before his death.
A decline in will preparation
Celebrities are joined by a majority of Americans who also do not have estate plans. In fact, the number of people with a will could be on the decline, with one study finding a 23% decrease from 2017 to 2020, when just 33% of people reported having a will. Among older adults, 20% said that compared to the previous year, the likelihood of them having a will was lower. Among middle-aged adults, the percentage was 25%. Cost, a lack of knowledge about how to create a will, the belief that they had nothing to leave anyone or simply not having time to do it were all cited as reasons for not having a will. However, not having an estate plan is not just a matter of what happens to a person’s belongings but also can make the situation even more difficult for family and friends.
If a person dies without an estate plan, the state decides who receives the person’s assets, and this might not reflect the person’s wishes. Even people with few possessions of value may have sentimental items they wish to pass on with a will. Estate planning documentation can help ensure that family members know they are carrying out the wishes of their loved one.