Oscar-winning actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, died on February 2nd from a drug overdose. Recently, his long-time girlfriend and mother of his three children, Marianne O’Donnell, filed to open Philip Seymour Hoffman’s estate and to probate his will. While there are many lessons that can be drawn from his will, there are four main estate planning pitfalls that serve as important lessons:
1. Philip Seymour Hoffman Should Have Created A Revocable Living Trust.
The reason that Hoffman’s will is public and available for anyone to read (you can click here to read it for yourself), is because he relied on a will — and only a will — for his estate plan. For most people with even a modest estate, revocable living trusts are critical.
Why? When properly used, they help families avoid the costs, aggravation, and delays caused by the probate process. Probate court proceedings are public record (meaning anyone can read the will — even your nosy neighbor!), and are expensive, difficult to maneuver without an attorney, and often are breeding grounds for family fights.
It's much better to work with an attorney to prepare a revocable living trust now, than for your loved ones to have to hire a probate lawyer later.