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Hoffman's will doesn't cover the possibility of more than 1 child

Philip Seymour Hoffman was recognized as one of the finest actors in Hollywood. With every character portrayal, it seemed like Hoffman never left out any details. Not long ago, the celebrated actor unexpectedly passed away at the age of 46. He had a will in place at the time of his death, but it hadn't been updated since 2004, which could create problems for his children.

In our Feb. 13 blog post, we covered another unexpected celebrity death. Like Hoffman, Paul Walker didn't have an up-to-date will when he passed away. This also created questions for Walker's child and his long-time girlfriend in terms of guardianship and inheritance.

According to Forbes, the potential problems facing Hoffman's children are different than what Walker's daughter might encounter. When Hoffman's will was signed, he only had one child. Accordingly, his will established a trust to benefit the boy when he reached the ages of 25 and 30. On a superficial level, this seems like smart planning, since young people may not be well-equipped to manage a large inheritance.

However, Hoffman had two more children with his long-term partner, Marianne O’Donnell, after this will was created. Unfortunately, this could create a situation in which his two youngest kids won’t receive a share of the estate.

One legal observer notes, that some state laws are designed to prevent disinheritance of this kind, but there is no guarantee it can be avoided entirely. Had Hoffman been a Michigan resident, it's likely that this case would be held up against state law in order to determine if all three of his children could be included as beneficiaries during the estate administration process.

No one wants to leave a loved one out in the cold or create an unnecessary dispute. For this reason, effective estate planning should include updates to wills in order to avoid conflict during probate.

Source: Forbes, "Philip Seymour Hoffman's Will Raises Legal Problems," Deborah L. Jacobs, Feb. 20, 2014

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