Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the successful director and actor, recently died from a suspected drug overdose at the age of 46. He leaves behind an estranged long term girlfriend, an 11 year old son, a 7 year old daughter and a 5 year old daughter.
The last time Hoffman updated his will was 10 years ago when his son had just been born, his subsequent two daughters are not mentioned in his latest will, which will leave his long term girlfriend and mother to his children in a complicated situation.
Hoffman’s son stands to inherit half of the trust when he’s 25 and then the rest of it when he’s 30. Therefore the trust will not be shared equally between his children.
Due to a New York Law, if Marianne O’Donnell, Hoffman’s ex-girlfriend, disclaims her inheritance then the three children can share equally in the trust, however, this is obviously a difficult decision for Hoffman’s long term girlfriend and mother of his children.
Regardless, there will still be further complications if Hoffman made his son beneficiaries of certain accounts, such as custodial bank accounts, retirement accounts or a life insurance policy which may not be covered by a Will. If Hoffman did do this, then his son may end up with a huge trust compared to his two younger sisters.
If Hoffman’s Will had simply be worded differently provision could have been made for any future children, meaning these complicated issues could have been avoided and his two daughters included in his Will.
It is extremely important to regularly update your Will and seek advice from a specialist to ensure it is appropriately drafted and makes provisions for the future.
This is not the first time when a high profile celebrity has deceased leaving an ‘out-of-date’ will.
Heath Ledger, the actor famed for his Oscar winning role in Batman, also failed to keep his will updated, which meant that his young daughter and girlfriend were not mentioned at all.
Ledger’s estate defaulted to his family who generously relinquished their whole inheritance to Ledger’s daughter, Matilda.
These are just two high profile cases in which people have not been properly advised regarding their will. With the correct advice, a lot of time, money and stress can be saved.
For more information on our wills and probate services please call 0151 264 73 63 and speak with Emily Pullen, Head of Private Client Department