In Probate News, the recently deceased actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has been reported by the New York Daily News as having left most of his thirty-five million dollar estate to his longtime girlfriend, Mimi O’Donnell. Hoffman’s will is dated October 7, 2004, and no more recent will has been found, nor is suspected of being in existence. The forty-six year old Oscar-winning actor was found dead last month, allegedly from a drug overdose. Hoffman left a huge trust to his ten year old son, Cooper, however there were a few stipulations to the will. Hoffman requested that his son “be raised in or near the borough of Manhattan,” or in San Francisco or Chicago, Illinois.” He explained that, “the purpose of this request is so that my son will be exposed to the culture, art, and architecture that such cities offer.”
Cooper was a year old when the will was written. He now has two sisters as well, seven year old Tallullah, and five year old Willa. O’Donnell is the mother of all three of Hoffman’s children, and the executor of his will. Because of the fact that her children depend on Hoffman’s money for their support, O’Donnell’s lawyer is working to have the will expedited as soon as possible. If you have any questions on how a will works, or having one expedited, contact Probate Lawyer Deborah Gold-Alexander.
Can Assets Be Transferred Without Probate?
Of course, most people will not have an estate quite as large as Philip Seymour Hoffman. In larger or smaller estates, the answer to whether or not probate is required will depend on how much the deceased planned ahead to avoid probate before they passed away. Of course, in the best case scenario, all assets would be passed on to their beneficiaries without anyone having to deal with probate court. Such cases would include living trusts, joint tenancy, survivorship community property, or tenancy by the entirety. Insurance policies, retirement policies and such documents where a beneficiary is named do not require probate court.
First Things First
Regardless of the size of the estate, all debts must be paid before the beneficiaries will receive their assets. Debts such as the last income taxes, funeral costs, hospital stays, etc are to be paid out before the rest of the estate can be distributed. In cases where there is not enough money to pay the debts, it is best to seek legal advice before choosing who to pay first. There are many legal reasons for this. In some states, for example, some creditors are given a higher priority than others. If you have any questions about Probate Law, contact Probate Lawyer Deborah Gold-Alexander today.