Stieg Larsson (1954-2004) – Journalist, Novelist
Stieg Larsson was a Swedish journalist and writer best known for writing the “Millennium series” of crime novels, which were published posthumously. Its last part, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, became the most sold book in the United States in 2010 according to Publishers Weekly. Larsson lived and worked much of his life in Stockholm, in the field of journalism and as an independent researcher of right-wing extremism. Larsson’s political convictions, as well as journalistic experiences, led him to found the Swedish Expo Foundation, established to “counteract the growth of the extreme right and the white power-culture in schools and among young people.” He also became editor of the foundation’s magazine, Expo, in 1995. Yet, despite his intelligence, look what happened to his estate.
Larsson died of a heart attack after climbing seven flights of stairs to his office because the lift was not working. In May 2008, it was announced that a 1977 Will, found soon after Larsson’s death, declared his wish to leave his assets to the Umea branch of the Communist Workers League (now the Socialist Party). As the Will was unwitnessed, it was not valid under Swedish law, with the result that all of Larsson’s estate, including future royalties from book sales, went to his father and brother. His long term partner, Eva Gabrielsson, who found the Will, had no legal right to the inheritance, sparking controversy between her and his father and brother. Reportedly, the two never married because, under Swedish law, couples entering into marriage are required to make their addresses publicly available; marrying would have been a security risk. Owing to his reporting on extreme groups and the death threats he had received, the couple had sought and been granted masking of their addresses, personal data, etc., from public records, to make it harder for others to trace them. This kind of “identity cover” was integral to his work as a journalist and would have been difficult to bypass if the two had married or become registered partners.
Stieg Larsson was an intelligent journalist, but even famous writers can fail to properly plan. If you want to minimize the consequences of failing to properly plan your estate, then contact The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. for a free initial consultation on estate planning, trust planning, and/or probate issues.