I recently finished reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Swedish author, Stieg Larsson. Larsson is one the world’s best selling authors, having sold 20 million books worldwide. He is currently on both the hardcover and paperback fiction bestsellers lists for the Globe and Mail and the New York Times.
In 2004, shortly after entering into a publishing agreement, Larsson unexpectedly died at the age of 50. His three bestselling novels were published posthumously and have been immensely popular both in Sweden and internationally.
The drama behind his estate has also captured Sweden’s attention pitting Larsson’s common law spouse of thirty years, Eva Gabrielsson, against Larsson’s other surviving relatives.
While at the time of his death, Larsson’s estate was modest, the success of his books has resulted in a windfall for his estate. A Will made in 1977, leaving his estate to the Communist Workers League, was found to be invalid and Mr. Larsson was found to have died in intestate. Larsson’s father and brother inherited his full estate.
Gabrielsson inherited nothing from Larsson’s estate and has become a symbol for what many see as unfair inheritance laws. She is currently writing a memoir on her experiences and is working to change Sweden’s inheritance laws to include rights for common-law spouses.
In Ontario, common law spouses are not included in Part II of the Succession Law Reform Act, which governs intestate succession. A common law spouse can bring a dependant’s relief claim to sue the estate for support or bring a claim for unjust enrichment, constructive trust, or quantum meruit claim against the estate.
Thanks for reading,