Representatives of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman filed his will in probate court. Hoffman died in February having a will that leaves his entire estate to a woman named in the will as his “friend and companion.” The woman, Mimi O’Donnell, the mother of his three children, was treated essentially as a spouse, according to additional papers filed with the court.
Hoffman’s lawyer asserted Hoffman chose not to leave trusts for his children, despite recommendations from his advisors, instead opting to leave everything to the mother. The will did make provisions for a trust for his son, who was the only child at the time the will as written, but only if O’Donnell was not alive at the time of Hoffman’s death. According to the court filing, Hoffman stated that he did not want to make his children “trust fund” kids.
Hoffman also used his will to leave specific guidance on where his son should be raised in the event that a guardian was appointed while the son was still a minor. Hoffman gave very detailed guidance on where and how the child should be raised. The court accepted the will as valid after hearing from a lawyer appointed to represent the interests of Hoffman’s children.
This case raises several points. First, without a will Hoffman’s wishes would not have been carried out, as his children would have inherited under state intestacy law instead of O’Donnell. She would have received nothing because they were not married. Second, legal advice is valuable, but ultimately a will can be written however desired, as Hoffman’s refusal to create trusts for his children was not in accord with his attorney’s advice. Third, wills should be updated periodically.
Source: CNN, “Philip Seymour Hoffman didn’t want ‘trust fund kids,’ court docs show“, Alan Duke, July 22, 2014