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Best-selling novelist Tom Clancy died on Tuesday in a Baltimore hospital at the age of 66.
Clancy's literary thrillers were successfully transformed into blockbuster Hollywood films, including "Patriot Games," "The Hunt for Red October" and "Clear and Present Danger."
It's unclear how the prolific author's estate might be handled.
Clancy published 28 books -- including a new novel, "Command Authority," that is slated for publication this December, according to CNN.
His most famous character was CIA agent Jack Ryan -- who was portrayed on the big screen by actors like Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck. Chris Pine is set to play Ryan in the upcoming movie, "Jack Ryan: Shadow One."
His writings also spawned the inspiration for the military strategic video game hits "Rainbow Six," "Ghost Recon," and "Splinter Cell."
With a legacy of best-selling thrillers that sparked spin-off movies and video games, Clancy's heirs stand to inherit a media empire.
Clancy and his first wife, Wanda, married in 1969, and divorced in 1999. He went on to marry freelance journalist Alexandra Marie Llewellyn, whom he had met in 1997, according to USA Today. He is also survived by four children.
Whether a state follows community property laws or common law determines how inheritance law affects the distribution of a married decedent's estate.
Clancy lived in Maryland, which is not a "community property" state. That means Clancy's spouse is not entitled to a one-half interest in all property acquired during the marriage. But in all likelihood, Clancy protected her interests by penning a will which specified the distribution of his assets to his surviving spouse, children and perhaps organizations near and dear to him -- such as the NRA.
Clancy passed away at the surprisingly young age of 66, stemming from a brief illness he sought treatment for at Johns Hopkins University, according to USA Today.
His death is a somber reminder that life, like a Clancy novel, can take unexpected twists and turns. For that reason alone, it's important to plan ahead and protect your loved ones by writing a will while you're still healthy.
If you already have one in place, consider revising your will to reflect family changes or new wishes regarding the distribution of your assets.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.