With the recent death of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the most striking thing Rob Wood, tax attorney in San Francisco with Wood, LLP, has read is the lack of a living trust. Wills have to be probated, which means going to court, spending money and having the public know about it. For a celebrity, it seems so odd not to spend the extra time and get a trust in place, to avoid this, Wood says.
Wood says the main lesson here is to not just rely on a will that will have to be probated and to do an irrevocable trust to avoid probate. Wood doesn't know if this conversation didn't happen between Hoffman and his advisors or if the advisors fell down on their job. Perhaps, as in the case of celebrities, there's a wrangler or advisor in the middle and it can be hard to get to the celebrity for them to sign on the dotted line.
In the case of late actor James Gandolfini, his advisors were heavily criticized for some things in his documents. "We really don't know what conversations take place behind the scenes and who said what to whom," Wood explains.
For more information on the article written in Forbes magazine about this, click here. Robert Wood is a tax attorney with Wood, LLP in San Francisco, California and spoke with The Tax Law Channel, an affiliate of The Legal Broadcast Network. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.