Anne Heche Had No Will–Another Celebrity Estate Planning Lesson

By Stephen J. Silverberg
New York Elder Law Attorney

Like many people who don’t expect to die in the near future, Anne Heche did not have a will. She leaves behind one minor child and one adult child, who is asking the court to be named her administrator.

The Heche case follows in the footsteps of many celebrities—and regular people—who may not realize the burden they place on their children when they fail to have an estate plan.

Heche died at age 53 as a result of injuries sustained in a one-car collision on August 5. She was declared legally dead on August 12 but remained on life support because she was an organ donor and the OneLegacy Foundation needed time to find recipients for her organs.

While the value of her personal estate is unknown at this time, we do know her adult son Homer Heche Laffoon, age 20, filed a petition in Los Angeles Probate Court on August 31 asking to be named the administrator of his mother’s estate.

As administrator, Laffoon would be responsible to collect, inventory, appraise and manage all of the late actresses’ assets. Depending on the size of the estate, this may be a hefty responsibility for a 20-year-old.

Laffoon also asked the court for an Appointment of Guardian ad litem for his brother Atlas Heche Tupper, age 13, who she had with her ex-husband James Tupper. The guardian ad litem is so the court recognizes both boys as the legal heirs to the actress’s estate.

Lessons from the Anne Heche situation:

  • Everyone needs an estate plan. In the months to come, the general public may learn more than Heche would have liked as her entire estate may be subject to probate.
  • Every parent needs a will to name a guardian for their minor children. In this case, Atlas has a father, but if he did not, the court would have to name a guardian.

You don’t have to be a celebrated actress to want to keep your business private and your family protected. All you need is an estate plan.

About the Author
Stephen J. Silverberg is nationally recognized as a leader in the areas of estate planning, estate administration, asset preservation planning, and elder law. He is a past president of the prestigious National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), and a founding member and past president of the New York State chapter of NAELA.