Tragically, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died on February 2, 2014, at the age of 46. His death was caused by an apparent drug overdose. The actor left behind three young children and a long-term girlfriend. His will was filed on February 19, 2014. The document, which was signed in October of 2004, creates several problems for his children and girlfriend since it was never properly updated. The girlfriend, Marianne O’Donnell, is the mother of all of Hoffman’s children.
Hoffman’s estimated net worth at the time of his death was $35 million—he left everything to O’Donnell. However, since O’Donnell was not his legal spouse, the estate tax breaks normally available to spouses are not applicable to Hoffman’s estate. The federal tax rate for assets that will be subject to the estate tax is 40 percent, resulting in an enormous bill.
Another issue is that the will gives O’Donnell the right to disclaim all or part of her inheritance, with the disclaimed assets going into a trust for the benefit of Cooper. The terms of that trust call for Cooper to receive half of the trust property at age 25, and the remainder at age 30. There is no mention of his two daughters, Tallulah and Willa, who were not yet born at the time of the will’s creation.
According to the will, O’Donnell will be the executor of Hoffman’s estate. She will need to appoint a guardian ad litem to represent her two daughters in this messy and complicated estate litigation matter. Hoffman’s will and trust could have been worded to anticipate the possibility of future children. Unfortunately, however, it was not. Hoffman also failed to update his estate documents after his family grew with the birth of his daughters.
Everyone at the Law Office of James F. Roberts & Associates, A.P.C., expresses sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Hoffman.
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