Philip Seymour Hoffman left nothing for his children in his will
Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died earlier this year from a drug overdose. He left three children and a girlfriend behind. It was recently discovered that he did not leave anything for his children in his 2004 will. Media reports such as the one linked above seem to have made this out to be a big deal, but I can tell you as an estate planning attorney, it’s not that unusual. Here is why:
Hoffman and his girlfriend, Mimi O’Donnell had been living separately at his death, but had also never married, reportedly because Hoffman did not believe in marriage. They lived, however, essentially the same as a married couple. They lived together (at least at one time), had three children together and did things together as a family. Thus, it was as if they were married. Most of my married clients, at least those with children born of their marriage, leave their inheritance to their spouse, because they trust the spouse to use the inheritance for themselves and the children. It’s only after the second spouse passes away that most of my clients provide for their children. The only difference here was that Hoffman and O’Donnell were not legally married. But, in having children together and having the same trust as most married couples, Hoffman decided he trusted O’Donnell that if he were to die, she would use his estate to support their children and raise them as he would have wanted.
This last point was apparently very important to Hoffman who did not want his children to become “trust fund kids”. It is interesting to note that Hoffman presumably would not have had to provide directly for O’Donnell in his will because they were not married. In most states, including Missouri, you cannot cut your spouse entirely out of your estate, unless you have a prenuptial or antenuptial agreement in place.