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Heath Ledger, Matilda

RAMEY PHOTO

I see on the Internet that Heath Ledger's Oscar would go to his kid, Matilda, but not until she turns 18. Why does she has to wait until she's 18?
—Gunnar, Kissimmee, Fla.

Let me see if I can do this without getting too dense and legalish: Matilda Ledger is a toddler. That makes her a minor. (Not every Hollywood kid is a mini-adult like Miley Cyrus, you know.)

And as a minor, the law says that Matilda cannot obligate herself to any legally binding legal agreement—signing a contract, in other words. Why is this important if she isn't signing any movie deals herself? Well...

Because the Oscar people have imposed a rule outlining how she would receive her late father's statuette—should he win Best Supporting Actor on Sunday—and that rule requires Matilda to sign a contract. Specifically, the contract states that Matilda will not resell Ledger's Oscar without first offering it back to the academy for $1.

That agreement is standard for all Oscar winners, presumably to prevent honorees from fueling a black market in small, shiny, gold men. But of course, Matilda can't sign such an agreement until the year 2023.

Until then, trust and estate attorney Jim Sigler explains to me, "The executor of Heath's estate is going to hold that Oscar for her benefit." More specifically, the Oscar people have said they will give the statuette to Matilda's mom, Michelle Williams, until Matilda becomes an adult.

Of course, all of this is moot if Ledger does not win that posthumous Oscar, so let's just see how that all works out first, right?

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