Tuesday, February 25, 2014
As I have previously discussed, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s will, which left his entire estate to the mother of his three children, Marianne O’Donnell, was signed when he only had his eldest son and prior to the birth of his two daughters. The two daughters being left out of the will could cause serious legal complications.
Since Hoffman and O’Donnell were not married the estate is not eligible for the marital deduction. Without the marital deduction the $35 million estate is facing $15.1 million in taxes. However, Hoffman’s will included the option for O’Donnell to disclaim part of her inheritance, which would go into a trust for their son Cooper. Since Hoffman’s two daughters are not mentioned in the will, it creates an “after born child” problem. Under New York law, unintentionally disinherited children are protected, and the three children may be able to inherit the trust in equal shares. However, if the two daughters were provided for outside of the will, then Copper may inherit considerably more than his sisters.
See, Deborah L. Jacobs, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Will Raises Legal Problems, Forbes, Feb. 20, 2014.