Chadwick Boseman Probate Documents from Los Angeles County

On, or about, October 15, 2020 a new probate was filed for the Chadwick Aaron Boseman estate in Los Angeles Superior Court.  I was talking about this case with a lawyer friend as it is interesting talking about any probates but especially one with a known decedent like a great actor.  As we like to blog about celeb estates on our website I thought I would tell you a little about this probate from a probate lawyer’s perspective.

The first thing that is most notable is it was filed on October 15th and given a court date of November 19th.  My last filing in LA county was about two weeks ago and we got a court date in February I think. It was a Heggstad petition rather than a standard probate but I have not gotten a hearing five weeks out in LA county EVER as far as I can remember. I wonder if this is star treatment!?

The probate was filed by an attorney in Westlake Village named William George. I do not know Mr. George but his credentials are similar to mine although he has an LLM from McGeorge and I have a regular law degree from McGeorge. We are both Certified Specialists in estate planning, trust and probate law and both are “Super Lawyers.” I will assume Mr. George is a very experienced and respected lawyer to work on such a high profile case.  Mr. George’s client is Taylor Simone Ledward. From my review the document does not appear to have any obvious mistakes as I often find when reviewing documents filed by others.

Before I go on I should say this blog post is making educated guesses about certain things. I do not have any personal information but rather am using Mr. Boseman’s probate to illustrate various probate principals.

Looking online I note that Ms. Ledward and Mr. Boseman married just a few months ago. In fact, People Magazine ran a story about the newly filed probate documents and mention this. Let’s just say People didn’t go quite as deep as me on the probate side of things!  Here’s a link to that article.

The probate petition lists a property on Canyon Drive in Los Angeles as Mr. Boseman’s residence at death. I looked up the property and it does not appear to be in Mr. Boseman’s name so I would guess he was renting as a lot of celebs do.  Zillow values the property at just north of $3mil – heck, that’s practically a tear down in the Hollywood Hills, lol!

The probate notes Mr. Boseman had no will and the petition seeks limited IAEA authority rather than full IAEA authority. I personally always seek full authority but since there is no real estate here I imagine that’s why they went with limited IAEA. I ask for full authority as a matter of course as I want my clients to have the maximum powers available under the law.

Going back to the no will issue. Why on earth do so many high net worth celeb types not have even simple wills when they die?  This seems like a common phenomenon.  I even recall a US Supreme Court Justice who died with no will or a simple will. What the heck!?  GET A WILL PEOPLE!

On page two of the petition you will note the assets are listed at $938,500.   That is $936,000 of personal property and $2,500 of income from personal property. Perhaps there is a bank account (or accounts) totaling $936k that Mr. Boseman didn’t have his wife’s name on when he died.  I would think he would have royalties or other rights, that may pay out in the future, but I don’t know why they would produce only $2,500 of income. I just do not know what these assets are.

Why “only $938,500” you might ask!?  My guess is that Mr. Boseman had more than that as a simple Google search indicates an estimated $12m net worth at death. Perhaps he named his wife, and/or others, as beneficiaries on those assets!? If that was the case then they would typically not be included in the probate estate.  For example, he might have retirement accounts, bank accounts, stock accounts or many other type of accounts but had a named beneficiary or POD (payable on death).

On page 3 it lays out Mr. Boseman’s family tree. It indicates he was survived by his wife, no children, no issue of a predeceased child, and was not survived by a step-child or foster child that he would have adopted but didn’t because of a legal barrier. In the next paragraph it lists his parents as his next of kin besides his wife. Page 4 of the petition lists the addresses of his wife and his parents. It should be noted that his parents live in South Carolina.

What’s the plan here?  Getting letters of administration is a key starting place in a probate. Ms. Ledward has priority to serve as Administrator, as the surviving spouse, and this will have her standing in Mr. Boseman’s shoes to transact business.  It’s possible Ms. Ledward will file a spousal property petition, a family allowance petition, or other probate court petition but that is not known yet.

Though these documents are a public record I do not want to publicize anything specific so am only posting  a copy of page 1.  Ms. Ledward and Mr. Boseman’s parents deserves that respect.

If you have probate questions let us know!

-John Palley


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