The New York Times reported today that Heath Ledger’s will made no provisions either for his young daughter, or for her mother and former girlfriend Michelle Williams. Instead, the actor left his entire estate to his parents and sisters back in his native Australia.
Word has it that his family intends to make provisions to care for the baby and for Williams even though the will has failed to do so. Hopefully, their concept of adequate provisions will be the same as Mr. Ledger’s would have been had he taken the time to update his will.
This situation teaches a lesson after the fact — which is normally the most painful way to learn a lesson! It is important to review an estate plan with every major change in one’s life. Make provisions for the new spouse or significant other as well as children as they are born.Keep in mind that a "significant other" will not be provided for by the law of intestacy so if you want to provide for yours, he or she must be included in a will or trust. Delete provisions for folks who have passed on, as well as those for whom you no longer like or wish to provide. Don’t delay as the result could well be the last thing you would ever want — and at a time when you will be able to do exactly nothing to straighten out the mess caused by your own sloth. Also, it should go without saying that you should never simply alter your will by hand (I only mention this since I have just seen my second altered will in less than one year!) —go to your lawyer and get it done right!