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Learning from Philip Seymour Hoffman's estate planning mistakes

There are some events that occur that shed light on the importance of proper estate planning practices. When Philip Seymour Hoffman died unexpectedly, people started looking into the preparations he made for his $35 million estate. For people who are trying to properly plan their estate, lessons from Hoffman's estate might help you to learn how to handle your estate.

The use of trusts is one of the areas you can learn from when looking into Hoffman's estate. In creating his estate, Hoffman used only a simple trust. If he had used a revocable trust, his family might have enjoyed a little more privacy. If you are making a simple will, you might consider putting in directions that assets not already included in a trust when you pass away be placed there upon your death.

The will that was in effect at the time of Hoffman's death was executed in late 2004. He had a trust for his oldest child. His longtime partner was to receive the remainder of his estate. Because the two weren't married, his partner will have to pay taxes on almost $30 million because she only qualifies for an estate tax exemption of $5.34 million.

This also highlights the importance of updating your estate planning documents. In Hoffman's case, only his oldest son was covered in the documents. That left two daughters without any written protection from him in his estate plan. You should make sure that you update your documents if you are divorced, married, have a child or if you need to change beneficiaries, executors or trustees.

If you are making your first estate plan or need to update your current plan, you might have questions about what you need to do. A Texas estate planning professional can provide more information and answers to your questions.

Source:  Daily Finance, "Philip Seymour Hoffman's 3 Biggest Estate Planning Mistakes" Dan Caplinger, Feb. 25, 2014

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