Updated: Oct 26, 2022
Less than one month after Anne Heche died, it’s been revealed that the actress didn’t have a will. According to recently filed court documents, the 53-year-old star’s eldest son, Homer Laffoon, has filed paperwork to be put in charge of his late mother’s estate.
“The Estate consists of two (2) intestate heirs—Homer Heche Laffoon and Atlas Heche Tupper. Homer Heche Laffoon is an adult and the proposed Administrator. Atlas Heche Tupper is a minor,” the documents read. “Filed concurrently with this petition is a Petition for Appointment of Guardian ad Litem for the minor, which specifically requests that the guardian ad litem be granted the authority to waive bond on behalf of the minor.”
What This Means for Heche’s Children
Ms. Heche “waived” her right to dictate to whom, when and in what proportions her hard-earned assets will be distributed following her tragic and untimely death. In doing so, she’s relying on the government’s will, also called the law of intestate succession, to take care of her family. Would you trust the government’s will to do right by your family? Of course not.
Here's What Would Happen to You
If this was your situation in Pennsylvania, here are a few of the host of issues that would ensue:
The court will decide who will administer her estate. Is a 20-year-old capable and ready to administer a multi-million-dollar estate? It’s a huge responsibility. Does he have the discernment and judgment to deal with some of the unscrupulous people who prey on the unwary in Hollywood?
The court may not agree to appoint her son as the administrator. The court could appoint an independent person for the job, at a very high cost to her estate, leaving less of her estate to her children.
Its possible that Anne’s ex, James Tupper, may oppose Homer’s application. Tupper might even petition to be appointed himself as the administrator of the estate. Would you be happy if your ex ended up administering your estate? For most people, the answer is probably not.
Do her children know what assets she owns? So many people have accounts that are online only. It’s possible that her son will be totally unaware of digital accounts that Heche owns.
Her 13-year-old son Atlas cannot receive his inheritance directly because he’s a minor. A judge will decide who will receive and hold his inheritance until he turns at least 18. Anne does not get to decide who will manage her son’s money. It will probably not be Atlas’ father. The person appointed by the court will surely charge fees to administer the money, leaving less for Atlas Heche to inherit.
Atlas stands to inherit millions when he turns 18. Will he be mature enough to manage all that money? Had Heche prepared a simple will, she could have deferred his receipt of his inheritance until he was older and mature enough to manage that kind of money. Without a will, she waived her ability to manage and control her children’s’ access to her wealth.
Her children will divide her estate evenly. Is that what she would have done? In some families, there are good reasons for an uneven distribution of an estate, especially when there are large age-gaps between the oldest and youngest.
Did Heche leave any instructions for how she wants her image and digital assets to be handled after death? What happens to her social media accounts, digital files on her computer, phone and cloud accounts? Precious information about Heche could be lost forever because she did not leave instructions for how to access and how to handle these accounts after she died.
None of us knows when our time will come. But we can be ready for that time. You have the right – and privilege – to plan your estate. You work hard for your money, and you love your family. It makes sense to make it a priority to get your estate planning completed. Do not trust the government’s will to take care of your family. It will not work out how you might think.
We make it easy to protect your family. We prepare thousands of estate plans every year and our experienced estate planning attorneys are ready to help you too. Get started online today. In ten minutes, you’ll be on your way to getting this very important task completed.