Stieg Larsson’s posthumous legacy

Stieg Larsson who wrote the novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (as part of the Millenium Trilogy); died in 2004 (before the novel was published) without a Will.

Stieg and Eva Gabrielsson, his companion of 32 years, and collaborator had never married, Swedish intestacy law did not recognize the relationship, therefore, she 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, Erland and brother Joakim.

One reason given for Eva and Stieg not marrying was security reasons. As a journalist, Stieg covered extremist groups and received multiple death threats. Under Swedish marriage law, couples are required to publish their addresses at the date they marry therefore marrying would have been a security risk.

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

Eva requested the rights to control Steig’s work in order that it be presented in the way he would have wanted. Steig had told Eva  “that he had 10 books in his head about Lisbeth Salander (the lead character in the Series),”: Eva claimed that Steig was estranged from his family,  that his father was more like a distant relative and Steig wasn’t aware that his brother was married or had children and that none of his work colleagues knew that Larsson had a brother.

The family argued that if Stieg had wanted Eva to inherit anything, he would have written an appropriate Will. Eva located a 1977 Will soon after Stieg’s death that left his estate to a branch of the Communist Workers League. It was not valid under Swedish succession law as it was unwitnessed.

Following a protracted dispute over the estate, a settlement was reached giving Eva title to the home she shared with Larsson and his personal effects but little else.

Stieg wrote an incomplete manuscript of another novel with the working title of God’s Revenge Eva is in possession of the notebook computer with the manuscript, which is reported to be 260 pages and about 70% complete but cannot publish the work as she does not own the rights to the work.  Steig had also sent emails to a friend with an outline for a further book in the series.

In December 2013, Steig’s publisher announced that a fourth Millennium book, “That Which Does Not Kill Us ” would be written by David Lagercrantz. The book was released with the English language title The Girl in the Spider’s Web.  Eva was critical of the decision as it did not make use of the unpublished material which in her possession.

Lagercrantz wrote the fifth book in the series The Man Who Hunted his Shadow (The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye in English) published in September 2017

The only way that you can direct your assets after you die is if you create a valid will. Whilst Intestacy law directs your estate it may not do so in a way that reflects your wishes. Instead of leaving your family to manage your intestate estate – that could include protracted legal disputes make a will as part of planning for your future and give you and your loved one’s peace of mind.

 

 

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