Lessons we can learn from Philip Seymour Hoffman's Will

By Lenore Rice

The Oscar winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who passed earlier this month, had written a Will that we can take some very valuable points from.

First of all, that Mr Hoffman had a Will is to be commended. In the Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK only 30 per cent of adults are thought to have a Will, and while most people see the benefit of having one, the majority of us will die without every having written a Will.

Secondly, Mr Hoffman's Will demonstrates that it is not just about leaving money and assets to friends and family - parents can make requests in respect of how their children are raised in their absence, and deal with specific issues such as education, religion and other matters. In Mr Hoffman's case, he expressed in his Will a "strong desire" that his son be raised in one of three cities - Manhattan, Chicago or San Francisco. If living in one of those cities was not possible he expressed a wish that his son at least visit twice a year in order that he can experience their "culture, arts and architecture".

Thirdly, the actor was not married to the mother of his three children at the time of his death, and reports even suggest that they had separated shortly before. Cohabiting couples do not have the same rights as married couples in the event of death, and if no Will is in place the rules of intestacy would apply. Mr Hoffman, in his Will, left all of his tangible personal property to his "friend and companion" - his long-term partner and mother of his children.

Finally, a lesson to learn from Mr Hoffman's Will, is that while it is important to write a Will, it is equally important to update it during important milestones in your life. The actor's two daughters are not mentioned in the Will as it was written ten years ago, prior to their births. Instead, the Will sets up a trust fund for his son only.

If you are one of the 70 per cent of people in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK yet to make Will, or if you need to update your current Will, contact one of the will writing solicitors at Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast by calling 0800 840 9293.