The passing of actor Chadwick Boseman on August 28, 2020 shocked the world.  Mr. Boseman was known for starring in films such as 42, Marshall, and Black Panther [1].  Shocking to estate planners, he died without a Will according to recent probate filings [2].

Passing without a Will is a surprisingly common. It occurs regardless of finances or social status.  In the State of Indiana, Ind. Code 29-1-2-1 controls that situation.  Under that statute, in the case of someone passing leaving a first spouse and one child, the child and the surviving spouse will split the net estate.  In the case of a first spouse, no children, and both parents still alive, the surviving spouse receives three-quarters of the net estate, and the parents split the remaining one-quarter.  The statute refers to the “net estate” because there are often debts, taxes, and expense that need to be paid.  Additionally, under Ind. Code 29-1-4-1, the surviving spouse can claim a $25,000.00 spousal allowance.  We deduct all of these before calculating the “net estate”.

Most spouses do not expect or desire this.  The fulfillment of the testator’s goals in a predictable way with minimal stress and expense is the heart of a good estate plan.  In the modern world, this often involves beneficiary designations, dealing with real estate and vehicles and where possible, avoiding the time, expense, and publicity of probate altogether.  A complete estate plan is the best means to that end.

If you are in need of legal advice regarding planning, long-term care, or Medicaid, please contact us at (219)-230-3600 or via email at  If you would like to schedule an appointment, please click the button below.



About the author

Author profile

Christopher Ripley is a Valparaiso native and a lifelong Indiana resident. He is the oldest of five children. After graduating from Valparaiso High School, Chris attended Purdue University where he received his B.S. in Mathematics. He then attended law school at Indiana University in Bloomington where he received his Juris Doctorate. Chris has practiced law since 2013 and has served clients across the State of Indiana from Porter County to Evansville in a variety of legal matters. Chris is licensed to practice law in Indiana and Illinois.

Share this:


No responses yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *