Reading Intent From an Estate Plan / York, PA

3538871771_3a3cbb1eb8_zIf an estate plan is done well, we can tell what a deceased person intended to do and why merely by knowing what happened to his assets. Philip Seymour Hoffman is a recent celebrity example of this.


Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died of a heroin overdose in February. When he passed away, his immediate family consisted of three minor children and a long-time girlfriend. We now know from court papers that Hoffman did not leave his estate to his children. Instead, the majority of his estate was left to the girlfriend. A trust was created for one of his children, but money from the trust can only be used to pay for education, support, health, and maintenance.


A recent Yahoo article, titledWhy Philip Seymour Hoffman Didn't Leave His Fortune to His Children,” recounts why Hoffman distributed his assets this way. One thing we can tell is that he thought of his girlfriend as most people think of their spouses. He wanted to provide for her. The two were never married because Hoffman did not believe in marriage. The more interesting thing that we can learn from the story is that he did not leave his assets to the children because he did not want them to become “trust fund kids.” Instead, he trusted his girlfriend to provide for them. One child did receive a small trust. Apparently, this was the only child living at the time the estate plan was made.


You might want to consider what your estate plan might say about your intent. Does it do what you intend to happen? Think about what will happen to your assets and, even more significantly, what someone (who did not already know what you wanted) would think your intent was based on the plain language. If that language is different than what you really do intend, it might be time to visit an estate planning attorney to consider some changes to your plan.


For more information about estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.


Reference: Yahoo (July 21, 2014) Why Philip Seymour Hoffman Didn't Leave His Fortune to His Children

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