Phillip Seymour Hoffman died at the young age of 46, with three children, all under the age of 11. With his estimated $35 million fortune in his estate, he made the bold decision to disinherit his children, leaving the bulk of his $35 million to his partner, Mimi O’Donnell, according to an article on Today.com.
So, the question is, why did Phillip Seymour Hoffman ignore his son and his two daughters? Well, according to the article, he did not want his children to grow up to be “trust fund kids.”
This is not an uncommon approach that many of the affluent are now taking. There is a prevailing argument that leaving such a large amount of wealth directly to the next generation can ruin their work ethic as well as their appreciation for money.
According to Matt Lauer, of the Today Show, “The old saying is: You leave them enough to do something, not enough to do nothing.”
That said, Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s decision to leave his $35 million estate to his partner, without much left for his children seems a bit tough to understand as an estate planning lawyer. There are many ways to customize trust documents so as to include the important values that a parent would want to leave for his or her children. There are things like building in incentives. For example, the trust could distribute assets to match a W2, thereby matching the wages a child earns. That’s just one of many examples.
My advice would be to speak with an experienced estate planning or elder law attorney about how best to leave wealth to the next generation, including a discussion of the values you want to pass down to the children.