It is no secret that I am a comic nerd, movie nerd, and game fan. All of these forms of media have some very good offerings from Marvel. I only became familiar with Black Panther in Marvel Ultimate Alliance. I enjoy a fantastic universe with some depth. So the lore surrounding Wakanda, the origin of vibranium, and an unknown technologically advanced city state was all very interesting to me. 

I like the Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I can’t stand that Tony Stark sent the Hulk away from earth just because they couldn’t figure out how to deal with him. Be that as it may, I don’t think there has ever been a better casting choice in the history of film than that of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. I have trouble imagining anyone other than RDJ as Tony Stark. 

The same goes for Black Panther and  Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa. His portrayal of Black Panther was so good, so perfectly performed, that they can’t just get someone else to play T’Challa. The fact that he delivered such a performance while fighting cancer only makes it that much more impressive. The mantle will have to go to some other person to be the Black Panther in the MCU.

It used to surprise me when I would read about a celebrity dying without a will. Now it seems that more celebrities die without a will than with a will. In the last couple of years we have discussed Aretha Franklin’s estate, Prince’s estate, XXXtentacion’s estate, and Anthony Bourdain’s Estate. I’m saddened, but not surprised that Chadwick Boseman did not have a will. With all of his success, he has surely accumulated wealth worth protecting. There is some speculation that he used trusts to hold most of his wealth. A well drafted estate plan will leave all the details of those trusts behind closed doors.

How does Chadwick Boseman have a trust, but not a will?

When we do an estate plan that includes a trust, in 99 cases out of 100 we also include a will that leaves any assets in the decedent’s estate to the trust. I didn’t do Chadwick Boseman’s estate plan, so I can’t say why they wouldn’t have included a pour-over will. This type of will does not generally dispose of any assets other than transferring assets to the trust. Sometimes it might be advisable to have the court oversee parts of the estate. Even in those cases, it would be beneficial to create a will limiting the people who might take the opportunity to assert some sort of standing as a beneficiary.

How does your plan change when you get married?

In Chadwick Boseman’s case he and his significant other, Taylor Simone Ledward, married shortly before he passed away. I am all about true love, for example Peter Parker and Mary Jane overcoming Mephisto’s memory erasure to find each other again. I’m also a pragmatic attorney. Sometimes even though you may not require the government’s stamp of approval on your domestic partnership, it makes good legal sense to get married. This is one reason why people have fought so hard to have their marriages acknowledged. Spouses get special benefits with things like inheriting IRA’s, or special protections when it comes to creditors and their claims on someone’s property, even after death. 

In all likelihood, Taylor Simone Ledward will inherit all of Chadwick Boseman’s assets that were not already owned by a trust. Creditors will probably have a tough time getting at some of those assets, like the home, fixtures and furnishings kept in the home (up to $20,000 in Florida), two vehicles less than 15,000 lbs. (Like a dump truck. Hit by one of these Black Panther would have likely been able to throw Killmonger more than a mile up). 

Given the value of the personal property identified in the probate documents, creditors will likely get a chance to be repaid. The only other real effect this will have on Chadwick Boseman’s estate is attorney fees and filing fees. 

Getting married will provide some protections, but not as much as making sure all of your property is placed in your trust so as to avoid probate.

Why is a trust a good option for an estate like Chadwick Boseman’s?

Performance artists, like actors and singers, often rely on residual income. This can be true for writers and lottery winners too. Creating a trust to receive income from any source that may outlive you is usually a good choice. 

Aside from avoiding disclosing the income in probate filings, it provides continuity for the payor. They can keep writing the checks or making the direct deposit as they otherwise would. There’s no need for a court to say “yes, this person is entitled to the funds.” You may need to change the checking account for the trust and provide the account information to all direct deposit payors, but that is way less difficult than getting the judge to sign an order. 

Whether you need a will or a trust, and what documents should accompany those are important decisions. Contact us today to set up a time for a free 30 minute consultation regarding your estate, and what plan will work for you.

Remember, nothing in our blog posts should be considered legal advice, and do not form an attorney-client relationship with our firm. You should always consult with an attorney before drafting or executing any document that will affect your rights.


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