Kobe Bryant's wife Vanessa and not his parents will inherit billion-dollar empire in absence of will: Expert
Besides a glittering basketball career, Bryant was also a savvy businessman who was astute with his investments
NBA legend Kobe Bryant's death has left many questions unanswered, including whether he has left behind a will that will ensure that his billion-dollar empire is left in the hands of those he trusted and loved.
Bryant, 41, his daughter Gianna, 13, and seven others died after a helicopter carrying them crashed in Calabasas, California, on January 26, leaving the city of Los Angeles, as well as the rest of the country, in shock.
As people are beginning to come to terms with his death — if there were any lingering doubts about a grand conspiracy, the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner officially identified his body last week — other pertinent questions are coming to the fore.
The most pressing of those appears to be that of his fortune. Besides a glittering basketball career that will see him immortalized in NBA folklore and earned him around $600 million through 20 years' worth of league contracts, Bryant was also a savvy businessman who was astute with his investments.
He launched a successful venture capital firm, Bryant Stibel, in 2013, whose investments in numerous technology, media, and data companies such as Dell, Alibaba, Epic Games, and Klarna saw him amass over US$2 billion in assets.
He also founded Granity Studios in 2016, through which he made 'Dear Basketball' — the movie won an Academy Award for best animated short film in 2018 — had a personal brand with Nike, partnerships with several other businesses, and even wrote a book.
So, what will happen to these assets and investments following his death in the scenario he has not left behind a will, especially considering his less-than-amicable relationship with his parents, who he had not spoken to for the better part of seven years? Will they be able to lay claim to his estate?
Jo Carrillo, a professor of law at the Hastings College of Law, University of California, says no, at least in the case of someone dying within California's borders, and that it will all go to his wife, Vanessa.
Speaking to MEA WorldWide (MEAWW), she explained, "Anyone who dies without a valid will dies 'interstate.' In such a case, the state's intestacy law applies. In California, if the decedent is married and has children, the state intestacy statute shall distribute the decedent’s property to the spouse first."
"The decedent’s spouse, who takes for the children of the marriage, and other children, assuming children from a prior union, have clear priority over the decedent’s parents," she continued. "Under the state intestacy statute, if Kobe Bryant died intestate, his parents will not be takers given that Kobe died survived by a spouse."
"I don’t know enough about Kobe’s personal life to know if all of his children were also the children of his surviving spouse. If the children were the children he had with his surviving spouse, then the surviving spouse takes 100%."
Bryant's rift with his parents started after his mom had tried to auction away memorabilia from his early years for $500,000 in 2013 by claiming he had given her the rights to the items remaining in her home.
Bryant had to sue the auction house to get them to return the items, and while his parents did apologize to him, the relationship had already been damaged beyond repair. Now, with his death and with no further possibility of reconciliation, it looks like they will be forever left in the dark.