Heath Ledger’s family feuding over management of his estate

Heath Ledger’s uncles have gone public with their concerns over Heath’s father Kim Ledger’s spotty track record of managing financial estates. After Heath’s death, it was revealed that the actor left his assets to his parents and sisters, because he hadn’t updated his will since before his relationship with actress Michelle Williams and the birth of their daughter Matilda. Now, Kim Ledger’s brothers are expressing worry that Kim’s lack of asset management skills could jeopardize the estate.

Heath Ledger’s uncles are speaking out against his father Kim’s handling of the actor’s assets, saying Kim has a bad track record of estate management.

Ledger’s father so mishandled the management of their grandfather’s estate 15 years ago in Australia that Kim was removed as executor, the uncles claim.

“It plunged into enormous debt,” Mike Ledger, one of Kim’s brothers, tells PEOPLE.

Heath died in January at age 28 of an accidental mixture of prescription drugs – leaving behind a daughter, Matilda, by his ex, actress Michelle Williams. His will, written before his relationship with Williams, leaves everything to his parents and sisters.

Ledger’s uncle Mike insists the family has nothing to gain by removing Kim: “Our only vested interest is to assure that Matilda is well looked after.”

Mike added that Kim’s recent statement that Matilda “will be taken care of” was not enough assurance. “When you are talking about large sums of money like this,” he says, “it should be an independent executor, but Kim hasn’t chosen that way.”

Williams’s Father Raises Questions
Another of Kim’s brothers, Hayden, tells PEOPLE that Williams’s father, Larry, asked him if Kim was capable of managing the actor’s estate. “I just said, ‘No, not if he handles it like ours,’ ” he says.

The bitter dispute among the brothers dates back more than 15 years, when Kim became an executor of their grandfather Sir Frank Ledger’s estate, which they estimate was worth about $2 million in the mid 1980s. The family patriarch was a respected engineer in Perth.

According to the newspaper The Australian, Frank’s daughters filed a motion in Supreme Court asking to have Kim removed as the executor. The submission to the court stated that Kim’s handling of his grandfather’s estate “placed the assets at risk.” A report in Australia’s The Sunday Times says that a Supreme Court judge eventually removed Kim from overseeing the estate.

[From People]

Quite frankly, it’s none of the uncles’ business how Kim Ledger chooses to manage his son’s estate. But this does illustrate how important it is for people to update their wills and make sure their financial assets are in order, even when they’re only in their 20s. You just never know what will happen, and it’s really a strain on the surviving family who has to figure all of that out after you’re gone. I’m sure little Matilda is going to be provided for, no matter what. Heath’s family and Michelle Williams will see to that.

Kim Ledger is shown in the header image outside his son’s funeral on 2/10/08, thanks to Splash News. (We said we would post no funeral photos, but this one is a little different.) Heath is shown below in London taking his daughter out in her stroller.

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12 Responses to “Heath Ledger’s family feuding over management of his estate”

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  1. Rianna says:

    I agree… its none of the uncle’s business. They should keep their mouth shut and not spread their family problems all over the media. It is downright unclassy.
    I think that Kim will give his granddaughter whatever is needed. His family seem to have loved Heath and I see no reason why they would change after his death, apart from being MORE supportive to Michelle and Matilda. I am sure that little girl will want for nothing.
    Besides, wasn’t their another will that was drawn up but not signed after Matilda’s birth? I thought I read that somewhere.

  2. Mairead says:

    I’d read something about this in the Irish media a couple of weeks back.

    I’m wondering if Australian and American inheritance law is similar to Irish and British law, where each offspring must be given a fair amount of inheritance, and if not then the will may be challenged? Although the fact that the estate is based in Australia, whilst the child is based in America could complicate things. But legally, in either country, surely Matilda is the recognised next-of-kin, with primacy over her aunts and uncles?

    This is one area where being married where children are concerned makes things so much easier – any previous will would be void and there would be no uncertainty over what Matilda would receive.

    But it is completely classless to drag this into the media.

  3. Bodhi says:

    Mairead~ the inheritance laws vary from state to state, so it would depend on what New York’s laws are.

    If Kim Ledger had such issues dealing with a previous estate that the courts removed him as executor, then maybe he shouldn’t take the job. It is pretty damn hard to be the executor of an estate, I’d think more so when it is a famous celeb.

    I don’t know Australian inheritance laws (next on my list, I swear), so I don’t know how it all works, but I’d think that the courts would take past actions into consideration

  4. elisha says:

    Those uncles sound like money grubbing freaks. It’s none of their business. If I was the media, I would just ignore them.

  5. Mairead says:

    Bodhi – you rock!

  6. Mairead says:

    Bodhi – you rock!

  7. Bodhi says:

    Thanks! x2 😉

  8. headache says:

    I don’t know.

    I mean it is bad form to go to the media but if it’s their only recourse right now, I can see their point. They don’t want to manage the estate for themselves only have an independant executor be named to keep what happened to Sir Frank’s estate from happening to Heath’s. We aren’t talking about grown children squabbling for part of an inheritance but a family trying to do right by a little girl who cannot speak for herself.

    I am more than certain that Kim has every intention of providing Matilda with financial support but without proper management, that money might not be there, regardless of his good intentions.

    The uncles are not out of line in what they’re asking, only in how they are going about it.

  9. bodil says:

    It shouldn’t be up to Kim Ledger to “provide for Matilda”, it should be absolutely taken-for-granted that the child as a birth right inherits the biggest part of Heath Ledger’s estate. I don’t like the way that he’s been out talking in a paternalistic tone about how he will make sure that “Matilda will be looked after”. I’m deeply suspicious of this man – I mean, why was Heath so f*cked up in the first place? It surprises me that so few people try to connect this with Heath’s original family and how he fared there as a child, e.g. Going public about how much you love your son after he’s dead and you don’t have to take any emotional or other responsibilities anymore is one thing, being there for your hurting (and dying, as it were) son when he needs you the most, is another thing altogether. And no smoke without fire, the uncles may have a very good point. I hope Matilda’s guardians will fight for her birth right to Heath Ledger’s estate.

  10. headache says:

    Bodil, now that I think I about it, I partically agree with you. Matilda is his heir and I’m sure had Heath thought about it, he would have left the bulk of his estate to her. Kim should put the money into trust for Matilda and leave it alone.

  11. anonyvent says:

    In the case of Anna Nicole, who hadn’t make a new will after the baby was born, her little girl still inherited her estate.

    I’m not certain, but I think in most Western countries, offspring take precedent, even in the case of a will being made before their birth.

    Michelle should assert herself on behalf of her daughter. The whiff of impropriety on Mr. Ledgers part should be enough to convince her to do that. Any court would side with the child, no question.

  12. journey says:

    doesn’t sound like the uncles had anything to gain since they’re not inheriting under the will. and i admire them for stepping up to protect the wee one. kim seems like a very nice man. but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he has the skills to be executor of a large and complicated estate. and since he was requested to step down as executor once before . . .

    and making nice-nice words about always looking after little dancing matilda would be a moot point if all the money disappears, as so often happens when an estate is mismanaged.