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Matilda Ledger to Inherit Heath's Estate, Father Reveals

09/29/2008 at 09:30 AM ET
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When actor Heath Ledger passed away unexpectedly in January due to an accidental overdose, it was revealed that his will had not been updated since his relationship with actress Michelle Williams and the birth of their daughter, Matilda Rose in 2005. Heath’s will read that his estate — after his debts had been paid off — would be split between his three sisters, Ashleigh, Kate, and Olivia with the remainder going to his parents Kim and Sally. Although at the time, Kim had said, "Matilda is an absolute priority and Michelle is an integral part of ourfamily. They will be taken care of and that’s how Heath would want itto be," it was initially unclear how the estate would be divided. Now, Heath’s father has come forth and revealed that his granddaughter will be receiving everything. Says Kim,

"There is no claim. Our family has gifted everything to Matilda. That was the plan from the moment my boy passed away. There wasnever any question about the fact that Heath’s estate would go toMatilda. Never a question. We are very close to Michelle and Matilda."

Kim also shared that he and his wife Ines recently returned from a two-week visit to the States to see their granddaughter, telling PEOPLE, "It was lovely. There is no animosity [with Michelle] … We are all just one family."

Heath’s estate is estimated to be over $16 million, although a lawyer for the family refused to confirm or deny specific numbers. It was reported back in August that Jude Law, Colin Farrell, and Johnny Depp — who took over the unfinished role of Heath’s character in the movie The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus – would be donating their earnings from the film to Matilda.

Source: Herald Sun; PEOPLE

Thanks to CBB readers Cecilia, Mary Beth, and MaryAnn.

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Showing 21 comments

Brandi on

It warms my heart to hear him speak that way about Michelle. I am so happy they are visiting and continuing their relationship so that Matilda doesn’t lose touch with that side of the family.

I’m also glad he spoke out publicly about the will. There were way too many rumors.

Momto2 on

That is wonderful they don’t have to drag this out. It is only fair that she gets everything. Money will never replace her father but to see the famliy do the right thing shows me she will be loved.

Laura on

I am so glad to hear that his parents are doing the right thing…it should all go to Matilda. and it is wonderful to hear them speak of Michelle in that way. michelle is truly doing a wonderful job in raising Matilda and has shown such strength and grace through all of this.

rachael on

This does not surprise me. Heath, Michelle, and their families have always been respectful and graceful, even before Heath’s passing. On top of that, they have always seemed to have a genuine interest in doing what’s best for Matilda. So while this situation might have brought out the ugly side of some, Michelle’s and the family’s behavior during this has only solidified my high regard for them. Matilda is lucky to have such love around her.

Jennifer on

They are obviously a very noble, loving and honorable family. No wonder Heath was so amazing.

Di on

Heath’s family did the right thing but I think it is important to remember that this is not so much a gift but something Matilda is legally entitled to.
The will was made before Matilda was born and there is always a presumption that a parent would want to provide for their child in the event of their death unless the will explicitly states otherwise.

Also, I just found that Matilda is the beneficiary of $10 million life insurance policy but that the insurance co. does not want to pay because they believe Heath’s death may have been a suicide instead of an accident. This whole situation is so unfortunate. Heath did the right thing by getting life insurance and now they do not want to pay up.

Jo Ann v., a writer on the D-List on

Aw… I am always so sad when I hear/read about little Matilda. I was never a fan of Ledger as I never really watched anything with him, but this story is… just dramatic.
And the fact Law, Farrell and Depp would give their earnings when they are not forced to, it’s awesome…

Carrie on

This is still such a sad story. I feel for Michelle and Matilda. It brought tears to my eyes to hear that all of the actors are giving their money to Matilda. Wow!!!

Ms.B on

Di….

Matilda was legally entitled to SOME of it. She wouldn’t have gotten ALL of it if Heath’s parents hadn’t gifted the entire estate to her. They were legally entitled to a share of it as well so they did actually “gift” her a portion of it.

Louise on

this whole situation is so sad,but i am so touched to see the families coming together and doing the right thing by matilda…as for Johnny Depp,etc,donating their wages-so kind of them. its nice to see a little humanity in a crazy celeb world.
its nice to see the good guys come out when its needed x

FC on

He left way too soon, and never really got to enjoy his daughter for very long. His own words about her, friends and co-star’s words about him talking about, and the photos taken of them together, it was obvious he loved Matilda to pieces, and I think all he ever wanted was for her to be loved and taken care of. What parent doesn’t want the best for their child? But to know she’s getting that a bit more with her inheritance, I wouldn’t be surprised if Heath is smiling right now.

phoebe on

I adore that picture of Matilda and Heath. I hope Michelle has some help dealing with the money issues, it won’t be easy parenting a child sitting on a fortune that size!

Louise on

FC – i totally agree,i’m sure today is a happy day for Heath if he’s still out there watching over Matilda x

Sasha, USA on

Di, that’s terrible about the life insurance policy. Insurance will do anything to get out of paying a claim. If the coroner’s report says that the death was accidental, though, I don’t think the insurance company has a leg to stand on. Some life insurance policies do not exclude coverage in the event of suicide, as well.

My continuing sympathy to Heath’s family :( So sad.

Heather on

The only thing that strikes me is that the father says he gifted the estate to Matilda. It wasn’t a gift, the entire estate should have gone to her without question.

I am glad that his family didn’t put up a fight for Heath’s money.

phoebe on

Heather – Kim was likely just talking in a legal sense, I doubt that’s the way he actually personally felt about it. Going on what he said in the rest of the statement, I don’t think he or the family felt that they were doing Matilda and Michelle a favour by handing over the money. It seems to me like there is a huge collective family out there who adore that beautiful little girl and only want the best for her. They are all behaving as if they consider Matilda’s welfare to be paramount and that’s exactly how it should be. Kudos to Michelle and the Ledger family for their dignity and unity this year, it’s humbling to see how they have all handled everything.

Heather on

That makes more sense Phobe, thanks.

Chiara on

Also, I just found that Matilda is the beneficiary of $10 million life insurance policy but that the insurance co. does not want to pay because they believe Heath’s death may have been a suicide instead of an accident. This whole situation is so unfortunate. Heath did the right thing by getting life insurance and now they do not want to pay up.

That’s pretty low of an insurance company, even if Ledger’s death was ruled a suicide (which it wasn’t). Suicide is a “choice”, yes, but usually made in the face of mental illness or despair, and it seems wrong that a child should have to pay for a parent’s choice (and mental state) in such a case.

Chicki on

Why did it take his family almost 9 months to make this announcement? Also, why make an announcement about it at all? Michelle seems like a very private person, so whose decision was it to publicize this “news”?

CelebBabyLover on

Chicki- I’m guessing it was mainly to stop all of the crazy rumors that have been going around (i.e., that Matilda was NOT getting the estate, that there is “bad blood” between Michelle and Heath’s family, etc.).

Michele is very private, but she herself released a statement after Heath died, also, I think, to attempt to stop rumors going around. I’m sure they would have prefered NOT to release the info about the will, but probably felt that they had to given all the rather viscious rumours out there!

Nicole on

I’m guessing that the Ledger family was waiting until all debts etc. were paid off before they did anything. It takes quite some time to get everything hashed out and how were they to know that he wasn’t in some sort of financial trouble (I’m sure he wasn’t, but you never know)? They were just being cautious and made the right move when the time was right. There’s a fine line with the “legalities” in this situation, yes, he did have a legal will drawn up, on the unfortunate flip-side there was an unexpected tragedy after the birth of his daughter…so technically, you would have to say that the fortune was gifted, but it was Heath’s mistake that he did not act immediately upon the birth of his daughter to make sure she got it if that’s how he wanted it. I agree that she SHOULD get something if not all, but no one will ever know how Heath intended it to be…they only have to guess how he would have wanted it, by giving it to Matilda it tells me that they are a real caring family and want to give Matilda the best that they can in this very unfortunate situation. She will be taken care of, and that’s all that matters :)

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