Nevada fans of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman may be surprised to learn that the actor did not form trusts for his three children. His lawyer recently indicated that the actor rejected any form of trusts. His will, written in 2004, indicated that everything was to be left to his partner, Mimi O’Donnell. While the couple never married, the court documents indicate that the woman was treated in the same way a spouse would be treated. Additionally, she is the mother of all of his children. He reportedly told his accountant that she would care for the children if he died.
Provision was made in the will for a trust fund for the couple’s eldest child, a 10-year-old son, if O’Donnell preceded Hoffman in death. The provision was made when the boy was only a year old. No updates were made to make such provisions for the couple’s daughters who were born at later dates. The will also provided instruction requesting that the son be raised near one of three specified cities so that he would have exposure to various artistic and cultural influences.
The actor’s unexpected death in February was attributed to an overdose of heroin, and a significant amount of drugs and drug paraphernalia were discovered in the apartment where the incident occurred. Although the mother of their children is still alive, a court-appointed lawyer was selected to represent the interests of the children during probate proceedings. This individual has recommended that the will should be accepted. However, matters could have been much more complicated if the mother was no longer living.
Changes in family dynamics may impact the terms of an existing will, especially if additional children are born. Meeting periodically with a lawyer, especially after such changes, may allow for will updates that address new situations so that later legal challenges may be minimized.
Source: CNN, “Philip Seymour Hoffman didn’t want ‘trust fund kids,’ court docs show“, Alan Duke, July 22, 2014