First, a giant disclaimer, I do not practice intergalactic law of any sort in Alderaan, this market really blew up, or in any other planet that is part of the galactic senate or the trade federation. This article examines what happens to Darth Vader’s estate under the laws of North Dakota, not a galaxy far far away, and as of today’s date, not a long long time ago.
Anyone who is anyone will recall the rather galactically publicized death of Darth Vader. For a quick recap, Darth Vader is fighting Luke Skywalker, Luke is purportedly Vader’s son, but there was no documentation for this (Original Trilogy), to the death. Luke, facing some tough choices, cuts off his “father’s” hand, but refuses to replace Vader as Darth Sidious’s right-hand man. This is of course where the force of lightning comes, and it appears Luke will never again shoot a womp rat while in his T-16 or drink blue milk. Luke makes many pleas to Vader to save him but to no avail. Finally, the inner Anakin comes out of Vader, and he grabs Sidious and throws Sidious over those unusually low handrails. Vader succumbs to his electrical injuries and dies. A proper Viking burial was initiated by Luke.
Now that we are all recapped, what happens to all of Darth Vader’s trinkets? Before moving forward, we must make two assumptions: 1) Darth Vader actually owned property besides his lightsaber, utility belt, and suit (Remember a good portion of his life was devoted to not forming attachments or gaining material possessions); and 2) Darth Vader actually owned property that was his and not stolen from one of his victims.
First, presumably Luke would search to see if Vader had a will. Let’s assume that the guy who did not have enough forethought to spare Obi-wan Kenobi’s life, probably did not have the forethought to create a comprehensive estate plan from a licensed professional. In this case, Luke would need to have an application for the Informal Appointment of Personal Representative in Intestacy completed. (With the role galactic law would play in this as well as the many creditors that would make a claim against the Sith Lord, formal administration is more likely, but would be less helpful to you). This form will help Luke get appointed as Personal Representative of Vader’s estate. Think of a Personal Representative as the manager of an estate. They are in charge of all the assets and expenses, as well as distributing the estate when the time is right. Upon approval, Letters and a Statement of Informal Appointment will be issued to Luke. Technically, Luke and Leia would have equal priority to be personal representative, but let’s assume Leia files the appropriate waiver.
Next, Luke must provide notice to all of Lord Vader’s heirs. This step should not take too long since there are only two people related to Vader and one of them is arguably responsible for killing him (we will ignore slayer statutes). Luke must also provide notice to all of Vader’s creditors. This would likely be the most daunting task due to the millions of wrongful death, assault and battery, conversion lawsuits Vader would be defending across the galaxy. Luke would also prepare a list of Vader’s assets.
After waiting for creditors to make claims against Vader’s estate, Luke can finally distribute the estate. Now, in Vader’s case, it is fairly simple because he has only two relatives. Assuming he had more, however, his spouse, if any, would receive the first $150,000 plus one-half of the intestate estate due to Luke and Leia not being children of the spouse, Padme died giving birth. Assuming Vader died the way he lived, as a bachelor, his estate would be distributed to his children by right of representation. This means that if one of Vader’s children predeceased him, that child’s children would take his share. So if Vader had three kids, one of which predeceased Vader, and the predeceased child had two kids, then Vader’s grandchildren would each take one-half of one-third of the estate (1/6).
Upon Luke paying all the creditors and distributing the estate, he will file a Personal Representative’s Verified Statement to Close Estate. This form essentially tells the court the personal representative has done everything he needs to do and the estate can be finished or closed. If no proceedings involving the personal representative are commenced within one year of the personal representative filing to close the estate, the estate is closed.
If you have questions on commencing probate or want information on strategies to avoid probate, contact our Estate Planning Team at 701-297-2890.
The information contained in this article and on this website is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.