Dying Intestate is like kicking a Hornets nest

Stieg Larsson who wrote the novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; died in 2004 (before the novel was published) without a Will. Larsson &  Eva Gabrielsson, his companion of 32 years, and collaborator had never married. Swedish intestacy law did not recognize the relationship therefore Gabrielsson did not inherit the rights to his work or any part of his estate. Larsson’s estate including the literary estate was divided between his father, and brother.

One reason given for Gabrielsson and Larsson not marrying was security reasons. Larsson was a reporter who covered extremist groups and received multiple death threats. Under Swedish marriage law, at the time of marriage couples are required to publish their addresses therefore marrying would have been a security risk.

A literary executor manages the authors copyright, decides the territories where books are sold, and who translates the books and manages the film rights.

Gabrielsson requested the rights to control Larsson’s work so it would be presented in the way he wanted claiming. Gabrielsson claimed the Larsson was estranged from  his father who was more like a distant relative and Larsson wasn’t aware that his brother was married or had children and  none of his work colleagues knew that Larsson had a brother.

The family argued that if Larsson had wanted Gabrielsson to inherit anything, he would have written an appropriate Will. Soon after Larsson’s death Gabrielsson found an unwitnessed 1977 Will, that left his estate to a branch of the Communist Workers League. As it was unwitnessed it was not valid under Swedish law.

Following a protracted dispute over the estate a settlement was reached giving Gabrielsson title to the home she shared with Larsson but nothing else.

The only way that you can direct your assets after you die is if you create a valid will. Intestacy law directs your estate but not necessarily in a way that would reflect your wishes. You shouldn’t leave your family to deal with managing your intestate estate – that could include protracted legal disputes. Making a will is an important part of planning for your future  giving you and your loved ones peace of mind.

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