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Fans around the world were stunned, shocked, and saddened to learn of Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death. He has brought so many wonderful characters into our homes and hearts over the years and was continuing to do so with recent film endeavors. As devastated as fans were over his passing, it doesn’t hold a candle to what his closest friends and family felt.
The only people happy about his passing were likely to be at the IRS, which will be enjoying a windfall of nearly $15 million from Hoffman’s estate. While your estate may not have quite the $35 million worth Hoffman’s estate had, there are things you can learn from his mistakes that will help your family hang on to a much bigger portion of the estate you leave behind.
Update Your Will Frequently
At the time of his death in 2014, it had been nearly 10 years since the last time Mr. Hoffman updated his will. Two of his children were left out of the will as a result. They had not even been born when his will was last updated.
It’s true, no one wants to consider life after you’re gone, but it’s important to plan and provide for the people you love most. Updating your will ensures that no one is left out.
Marry your Partner
Whenever possible, it’s important to marry your partner. Had Hoffman and his long-time partner been married, he could have left her the entire estate without the IRS getting involved at all. You can give as much money to your spouse in life and in death, as you would like without your spouse paying taxes on that money. In this instance, it would have saved Mimi O’Donnell, his long-time partner, a cool $15 million in taxes.
Keep it Private
Establishing a revocable trust would have kept the details of Mr. Hoffman’s will private. Not only would we not be discussing it here, but no one would know the nitty gritty details of what was going on with the estate. If you value your privacy or have a spouse, partner, or children who value their privacy, it’s a small step that nets big benefits for everyone involved.
Work with an Estate Specialist
Another place where Mr. Hoffman went wrong was working with a real estate attorney to handle the details of his estate, instead of an estate specialist. It’s tempting to go with the people you know who are attorneys rather than venture out to find one who specializes. In this event, with all the taxes and tax laws involved, it’s in your best interest to work with someone who focuses on estate planning and wills rather than someone who dabbles in them.
The world has been robbed of a great presence on the silver screen. His family has been robbed of a sizable sum of money that should belong to them. Don’t let this happen with your family. Consult with your accountant today to make sure your estate plan is up-to-date and adequate to meet the needs of your family, while also protecting the privacy of all parties involved.