Massachusetts readers, along with the rest of the country, may be following the news of the recent death of star Philip Seymour Hoffman. It turns out that the Oscar-winning actor left his estate paperwork in miserable shape. Experts guess that between almost $12- $15 million of his estimated $35 million estate could end up going to pay taxes.
Hoffman’s will was 10 years old when he passed away. It does have a provision for a trust for the child that he and his partner had at the time the will was written. It is not clear if the couple’s other two children are mentioned in his estate paperwork. It appears that the majority of his estate has been left to his long-term partner.
There are things that Hoffman could have done to protect his wealth from the high taxation rate. Among the actions he could have taken was marrying his partner. New York does not recognize common-law unions, so the amount left to his partner is subject to estate taxes. Furthermore, he could have provided for trusts for his partner and other two children and prepared a better-structured trust for his oldest child.
In addition to Hoffman’s will being stale for 10 years, experts believe an attorney more experienced in real estate law than in estate law drew it up. Had he sought the input of the appropriate attorney, he may have been able to keep a much larger portion of his wealth intact for the benefit of his family. An estate and trust attorney may have been able to guide Hoffman through the process required for setting up trusts for those he wanted to provide for after he died.
Source: CNBC, “Here’s why Philip Seymour Hoffman’s will is ‘a mess’“, Kelley Holland, February 21, 2014