Trusts & Estates

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Trusts & Estates

The Most Important Parts of Estate Planning Can't Get Legislated Away

By: Matthew T. McClintock, JD

Most often, articles about the estate plans of dead celebrities focus on the legal challenges they raise or the amount of estate tax that could have otherwise been avoided. Many of the articles about Hoffman’s death — and Sopranos star James Gandolfini before him — bear this out. But recently an article surfaced about Philip Seymour Hoffman’s estate plan that caught my eye. Published in JD Supra’s Business Advisor, author Anne Bjerken noted that Hoffman’s estate plan specifically included instructions for the guardian of his minor son. The instructions serve as a reminder that some of the most important things to clients have NOTHING to do with financial or tax-related matters. For many sophisticated planners, this borders on heresy!

“It is my strong desire…that my son, COOPER HOFFMAN, be raised and reside in or near the borough of Manhattan in the State of New York, or Chicago, Illinois, or San Francisco, California, and if my guardian cannot reside in those cities, then it is my strong desire, and not direction, that my son, COOPER HOFFMAN, visit these cities at least twice per year throughout such guardianship. The purpose of this request is so that my son will be exposed to the culture, arts, and architecture that such cities offer.”

This is a reminder to us all that many clients — and probably the ones we enjoy the most — care about their personal “values” legacy. What do I want my kids/grandkids to know was important to me? What kind of humans should they become? How can my estate plan help to influence that? Hoffman felt strongly enough about providing cultural exposure for his kids that he had it written into his will.

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