Popular Swedish author Stieg Larsson, author of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and other popular novels, died suddenly in 2004, before his first novel was ever published. The estate Larsson left behind is now very large. However, it was what Larsson didn't leave that is causing his relatives unnecessary stress and strife-an estate plan.
Larsson never married nor had children, so his father and brother managed his estate. However, Larsson did have a sambo, a Swedish word meaning live-in partner, which is roughly the Swedish equivalent of a common-law wife.
Larsson's partner, Eva Gabrielsson, lived with him for 32 years, sharing the apartment and personal belongings, including the laptop that Larsson used to write his novels. Under Swedish law, Gabrielsson inherits nothing from Larsson. When it was discovered that there was an unpublished novel on the laptop's hard drive, the sparks began to fly.
Larsson's estate claims that the estate owns the novel. However, Gabrielsson, unhappy with the way that Larsson's father and brother are managing the estate, will not hand it over. She said that she would not turn it over unless she gets total control over the distribution and management of his literary works.
To this day, Larsson's family and Gabrielsson continue to fight over what could have easily been prevented if Larsson had left an estate plan making his intentions known.
Your estate does not need to be as wealthy as Stieg Larsson's to benefit from proper estate planning. The best way to avoid such familial feuds is to develop a comprehensive estate plan with the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney.
Source: Trial and Heirs, The Author who Played with Fire, Andrew W. Mayoras and Danielle B. Moyoras, 28 January 2009