The 2014 Oscars are complete. Trial & Heirs looks back at past Oscar winners like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Elizabeth Taylor, Heath Ledger, Frank Sinatra, and Marlon Brando. Their estates illustrate important estate planning lessons that everyone can benefit from — even those who aren’t walking the red carpet at the Oscars.
1. Philip Seymour Hoffman Estate Planning Lesson: You Can Be Creative With Your Will or Trust
There were many mistakes and pitfalls with Philip Seymour Hoffman’s estate (including no estate tax planning and his failure to use a revocable living trust, as we discuss in our article). But, Hoffman — whose portrayal of Capote earned him the Best Actor Oscar in 2006 — didn’t do everything wrong.
He gets credit for a key component of estate planning that many people overlook: creativity. Estate planning is not meant to be “fill in the blank” or “one-size fits all.” You can use your will or trust to pass along your goals, values and moral beliefs. Most people think wills and trusts only pass along assets to the next generation, but they can do so much more.
Hoffman’s will highlights this. He included language in his will to express his strong desire that his son be raised in Manhattan, Chicago, or San Francisco, or at least visit one of those cities twice each year, to be exposed to the culture, arts and architecture that those cities offer. Hoffman could have taken it a step further, especially through a well-drafted trust, but we applaud the late actor for thinking outside the box.