Learning from Others’ Mistakes: Update Your Estate Plan Regularly

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Will

Philip Seymour Hoffman, a renowned actor, died earlier this year from a toxic mix of drugs. He leaves behind his long-time girlfriend, Mimi O’Donnell, as well as the three children they had together. Hoffman was only 46 years of age when he died.

According to a recent article in MSN Money, the Oscar star’s will was dubbed a “mess.” Some of the problems with his will include the following:

  • The will is outdated – it was written 10 years ago.
  • A real estate attorney, not an estate planning attorney, apparently drafted the will.
  • The (out-of-date) will was most likely written before two of his three children were born – thus the two ‘post-will’ children are not included in the will. However, the other two children will most likely also inherit because there is a provision in New York (where his will was filed) for just such instances.
  • The mother of Hoffman’s children, Mimi O’Donnell, inherited most of his estate. The couple was not married, and she will most likely have to pay a large amount in estate taxes, taxes that could have been avoided if the will was crafted differently or if the two were married.
  • Hoffman set up a trust for his oldest child (as noted above the other two children were not born until after the will was written). The trust is set up in a fashion that once the child reaches the age of 30, he inherits the trust outright. It is better to leave the money in the trust and appoint a trustee that can oversee the trust expenditures. Assets that remain in a trust are protected from estate taxes and creditors.

It Is Too Late Once You Are Gone

From an estate planning perspective, Hoffman’s tragic loss is an example of the necessity to update your will and estate plan regularly, especially after life-changing events occur.

California Estate Planning

The Law Office of Mark Abell is experienced in all estate planning aspects. We can create and customize your estate plan to suit your needs. We are also able to assist you in updating your existing estate plan. If you want to discuss or have questions regarding your personal estate plan, contact California estate planning attorney Mark Abell today at 310-489-0707, orat  mark@trustabell.com.