The tragic passing of talented 46-year-old actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman was a shock to America and to the world. And now the public is privy to his seemingly inadequately executed estate planning.
We can’t truly know if Hoffman intended to pay an unnecessary $15 million in taxes out of a $35 million dollar estate, whittling it down to $20 million. The IRS might like it, but most taxpayers certainly wouldn’t. He also had three children with his partner to whom he was not married. That was also a personal choice, but it cost his partner Marianne O’Donnell millions. If they had been married, the property would have all passed to Ms. O’Donnell tax-free.
The message here is more than a simple tax lesson. The real point is that no one could have expected—his partner, his children, his friends, or his fans—that Hoffman would not live to see his 47th birthday. But one expectation you can have about life expectancy is that you ultimately never know when anyone will die.
That is why NOW is the time to decide what’s most important to you. Because:
- You don’t know when your last day will be.
- Your heirs need to know your intentions.
- You need to see the reactions of your heirs about your intentions.
- You can eliminate estate taxes.
Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays with Morrie, writes that, “Death ends life, not a relationship.” So, enjoy your relationships and your wealth TODAY, while you can—because you aren’t promised tomorrow.
Wealth is more than money. Don’t just plan for your future, live it right now. Pass it on and share the insights like this that you find valuable.
– Mark Twain