When Stieg Larsson died intestate, his life partner, Eva Gabrielsson, who shared Stieg’s life for 32 years, was left out in the cold. Larsson’s father and brother inherited his entire estate, which includes the rights to his best-selling trilogy and has grown to $40 million. Adding insult to injury, they now own one half of the apartment that Eva and Stieg called home. Since common-law marriages are not recognized in Sweden, the decades Eva and Larsson had been together were negated from a legal standpoint. Further, since Eva lacks legal “standing” in relation to Larsson’s estate, she does not “even have the right to go to court and debate the issue,” leaving her only option to negotiate with the Larsson family.
If you feel you are safe without a will because you are young, remember that Larsson was only 50 when he died of a heart attack. If you feel that the comparison is irrelevant because this was an international matter, you should also know that there are no laws protecting unmarried life partners in Massachusetts and most other states; similar to Swedish law, our laws tend to favor biological next of kin when an unmarried person dies without a will.
The moral to this story: Estate planning is crucial for those who are involved in non-traditional relationships to ensure that their loved ones are provided for .