Heath Ledger tragically passed away at the age of 28. After his passing, Ledger's family feuded on how his estate should be handled as family members disapproved of the executor.
"Brokeback Mountain" star Heath Ledger passed away as his career took off on January 22, 2008. He passed away from a prescription medication overdose and was found by a masseuse and his housekeeper, who called 911.
Unfortunately, emergency services could not help Ledger, and he passed away, leaving a large hole in his fans, friends, and especially his families' hearts.
"The Dark Knight" actor was survived by his parents, his many uncles, his three sisters, and his young daughter, Matilda, who was only two years old at the time of his death.
In 2018, his father, Kim Ledger, spoke out on Nova's podcast, "Addiction." He revealed that the blow of the loss of his son was made worse because he found out through the media. He explained:
"We kinda felt like we were the last to know. We literally turned on the television on [and] the first thing I saw was them carting the stretcher out.”
Ledger's father watched as responders took his child's lifeless body out of his SoHo apartment, which was an image that would stay with him forever. He could not believe his son had passed.
To make matters worse, Kim then had to deal with his brothers, Mike and Hadyn, publicly criticizing his management of Ledger's estate. Kim, his wife, and his daughter were left Ledger's estate.
Ledger had last updated his will in 2003 before he was Oscar-nominated for his role "Brokeback Mountain." Furthermore, the will was last amended before Ledger welcomed his daughter with Actress Michelle Williams.
Consequently, Matilda and Williams, who separated from the Australian actor a few months before his passing, were not included in his will. As a result, many believed it meant Matilda would not receive an inheritance.
At the time, Ledger's uncle Haydn told the media that he had concerns for Matilda and how the funds would be distributed.
However, Kim released a short statement after the will was released and said that both Matilda and Williams would be "taken care of [as] that's how Heath would want it to be."
Kim stressed that Matilda was the family's highest priority and her mother was an integral part of the family. Therefore Ledger's daughter would receive an inheritance from his estate.
Nonetheless, People reported that Ledger's uncles, Mike and Hayden Ledger, spoke out against Kim handling the estate because he had a bad track record of managing estates.
The uncles claimed that Kim was so bad in handling their father, Sir Frank Ledger's estate, that he was removed as executor when the latter passed away in the '90s. Mike told the outlet:
“It plunged into enormous debt.”
Mike reassured the outlet that Kim's removal as executor was not in the family's interest, but rather their only "vested interest" was to make sure Matilda was taken care of.
He stated that Kim's public statements that he would take care of the young girl were not enough assurance that she would be well looked after.
Additionally, the brother said that it was better to have an independent executor for more significant sums of money. It was estimated that Ledger's estate was worth over $10 million.
After Kim's estranged brother's statements, he released another statement via a Family Spokesperson, Adene Cassidy. She told Channel Seven's Sunrise program:
“It is sad... while we are grieving the loss of our beloved son, that estranged family members publicly discuss matters they have not been privy to in the past or now.”
On behalf of Kim, Cassidy declared that they hoped the family members would remain dignified for the sake of Ledger's young daughter.
Later, the situation seemed to have settled as Kim told the Australian Sunday Times that Matilda would inherit all of Ledger's money. He said the family "gifted everything to Matilda."
However, Accountant Mark Dyson, who was made executor of the estate, said he could not disclose out much she would inherit. The Sunday Times had estimated that Ledger's estate was worth $16.3 million.
Fox reported that it was unclear whether The Times' estimate included Ledger's life insurance policy. Unfortunately, the policy claim was also riddled with legal stresses.
According to the outlet, Ledger's former Attorney, John S. LaViolette, sued Minnesota-based ReliaStar Life Insurance Co. He claimed the company tried to avoid paying Matilda her father's $10 million life insurance policy.
ReliaStar stated that they were trying to establish whether Ledger's death resulted from suicide or whether the later actor lied in various paperwork.
LaViolettet's lawsuit claimed that the life insurance company had to investigate whether Ledger lied in paperwork while he was still alive.
However, a few months later, the lawsuit was removed from Los Angeles Superior Court to federal court. Dana Riley, the owner of ReliaStar, stated that they had not decided on the final details of the claim.
It is unclear whether the legal matters were resolved and how much Matilda received, but she seems to be doing well with her mother. She is now 16 years old.
In 2019, Williams discussed her then-13-year-old daughter while on an episode of "Live With Kelly and Ryan" on what would have been Ledger's 40th birthday.
The "My Week With Marilyn" star said that when it came to her daughter becoming a teenager, everything was "so far, so good." She joked that Matilda had not made a dramatic transformation in her personality yet.
Williams, who is now married to American Theater Director Thomas Kail, met Ledger on the set of "Brokeback Mountain." They started dating, welcomed their daughter but split up a few months before he passed.
Unfortunately, it is hard to keep up with Williams and her daughter as neither have social media, so fans only hear about them during a rare interview.