Friday, February 21, 2014
Philip Seymour Hoffman's estate shows the need to keep wills up to date
Posted by Lynne Butler
An article in www.usmagazine.com reports that Mr. Hoffman had a will in place. To read the article, click here. I apologize in advance for the barrage of advertising that you will have to wade through on that site, some of which is really tacky.
By the sound of it, Mr. Hoffman had a very good will that appointed a trusted executor and set up detailed instructions for the care and raising of his 10-year-old son. And yet, even with a good will in place, there are still problems. The executor he appointed is Mimi O'Donnell, his long-time partner and mother of his children. He also left his entire estate to her. The problem is that the will was written in 2004, and since that time he and Ms. O'Donnell had apparently become estranged.
This raises the question of whether he would still have wanted to leave his estate to her, or whether he would have preferred to leave it in trust for his children. After all, many people in Ms. O'Donnell's position go on to re-marry or enter a new relationship, only to eventually leave everything to that new person and not to the children.
The other problem is that Mr. Hoffman had two more children since the will was written, and they are not mentioned in his will. Obviously he had put great care and thought into how he wanted his son raised. There is no doubt in my mind that an involved parent such as he would have wanted the same care for his other children. He just never got around to updating his documents.
Mr. Hoffman was only 46 years old. No doubt he thought he had many years left before his will would be needed. His situation is a reminder to all of us to dust off our wills occasionally and check whether they need to be updated. I usually advise people to re-visit their wills when important events happen in their lives, such as the birth of a child (or in Mr. Hoffman's case, a second and third child) or a divorce or separation.
The attached photo of Mr. Hoffman accompanied the article in usmagazine.com and is credited to Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic.