People in California probably remember revered actor Philip Seymour Hoffman for his roles in many of the most acclaimed Hollywood movies of the last decade. Hoffman, who died unexpectedly of a drug overdose in February, 2014, left behind a substantial estate, but the lack of direction for the distribution of this fortune was a matter of concern for friends, family members and other professionals in the field who couldn’t fathom how he could leave $35 million unaccounted for.
Some speculated that he, as a relatively young and healthy person, hadn’t taken the time to properly plan his estate, which may have explained why he didn’t leave anything to his children in his will. But according to a recent news story, court records show Hoffman specifically chose not to set aside money for his three children because he did not want them to be “trust fund” kids, choosing instead to leave the money to his unmarried partner and mother of his children, Mimi O’Donnell.
The problem was that Hoffman never left any testament of his wishes to the court, which meant that his assets were transferred to probate and left in the care of a court-appointed attorney. Lacking any directive documents, the probate attorney was tasked with trying to piece together Hoffman’s wishes regarding his children, otherwise his assets would pass through to his next of kin or his children according to state statute.
Hoffman may have been a genius on the screen, but he certainly could have handled his personal finances better. Because he failed to put his estate planning wishes into a legally recognized form, his loved ones may end up losing millions of his substantial estate to unnecessary taxation and court costs. No matter how young, healthy or bored with the process, people should not make similar mistakes when it comes to providing for loved ones.
Source: Washington Times “Philip Seymour Hoffman didn’t want ‘trust fund’ kids: court,” July 21, 2014