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Philip Seymour Hoffman made a huge estate planning error

Just because a person has a great deal of wealth does not mean that they understand how to handle it effectively or protect it in the event that they pass away. In the last couple of years, the deaths of several celebrities with large estates have shed light on just how dearly poor planning can cost one's heirs.

Just a year ago, Prince passed away without any kind of will at all, creating a quagmire for his surviving heirs. Only a year or two before him, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away with a will, but his lack of proper estate planning ended up with his heir losing millions of dollars they could otherwise have legally kept.

One the greatest legal blunders in Hoffman's case was that he did not marry his longtime partner. Had the two been married, he could have easily transferred his estate directly to her. Unfortunately, as his unofficial partner, she did not have legal standing to receive his estate when he passed away.

This one key choice ultimately cost his surviving family about $12 million. Regardless of who you are, that is tough to swallow.

If you have any assets at all, you should consider consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney. Hoffman's circumstances are surprisingly extreme, but people with far smaller estates can still lose out on available exemptions by failing to make time to create a proper, well crafted, estate plan.

Maybe you are just now realizing you do need an estate plan. If so, do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced estate planning attorney to protect your legacy and the ones you love. Otherwise, your survivors may face a lengthy legal process to simply get a portion of what should rightfully be theirs.

Source: Kiplinger, "Philip Seymour Hoffman’s $12 Million Estate Planning Mistake," John M. Goralka, July 10, 2017

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