What Five Oscar Winners Can Teach Us About Estate Planning: Heath Ledger

by Norris Law Group on December 3, 2014

What Five Oscar Winners Can Teach Us About Estate Planning: Heath LedgerHeath Ledger won an Academy Award in 2009 for his portrayal of “The Joker” in The Dark Knight. 2008.  But in sad twist, his parents and sister flew from their native Australia to accept Ledger’s Oscar due to his untimely death in 2008 at the age of just 28. A bit of trouble regarding Ledger’s final wishes ensued after his death, as detailed by Danielle and Andy Mayoras in an article that appeared in Forbes magazine.

Heath Ledger, Best Supporting Actor Oscar for The Dark Knight (2009)

Ledger had a daughter named Matilda Rose with actress Michelle Williams three years earlier. But when Ledger died, his family back in Australia were listed as his beneficiaries, and the will was dated three years before he died.  Ledger failed to include Matilda Rose among his heirs and did not update his will after she was born. Media reports at the time stated that Ledger’s family may go to court to fight over the estate unless and until the family agreed to give all of Ledger’s assets to Matilda Rose.

In addition to his will, Ledger also purchased a $10 million life insurance policy that named his daughter as the beneficiary.  No one really knows whether Ledger wanted the assets in his will to go to his daughter or to his family, or if he just intended for Matilda Rose to receive the life insurance money.

This is the kind of scenario that can arise when people fail to update their wills. This particular story ended well for Matilda Rose, and the Ledger family never went to court.  While updating a will may not be on the mind of many young people, it is of paramount importance that everyone update wills and trusts, especially after important milestones such as the birth of a child, marriage, divorce, or buying or selling a business, regardless of age.


Attorney Graham Norris and his associates at the Norris Law Group serve the residents of Utah County, UT and throughout Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and California. Contact them today at 801-932-1238 or online for a free consultation.

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