Philip Seymour Hoffman's Gal Could Contest His Will


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Although he died unexpectedly earlier this month at 46 from a heroin overdose, Philip Seymour Hoffman had a plan for his now ten-year-old son Cooper. In the will he created, the Oscar-winner included an interesting stipulation that New York, Chicago or San Francisco should be the place where Cooper grows up or at least visit the city twice a year.

"If he was of sound body and mind when the Will was created, it should be upheld," said Jeffrey Landers, founder of Bedrock Divorce Advisors. "The big assumption is whether he was of sound body and mind or drugged out. If he was on drugs at the time, then it could be contestable on those grounds."

Hoffman's will was filed in Manhattan Surrogate Court, and the bulk of his $35 million estate was reportedly left to the mother of his children and longtime girlfriend Mimi O'Donnell whom Hoffman had not wed.

"You can bequeath anything you want to any person," Landers told MainStreet. "If Mimi wants to contest the will, she might run into a problem, however, because they were not married."

In the will, Hoffman wrote: "It is my strong desire that my son Cooper Hoffman be raised and reside in or near the borough of Manhattan. If not New York then Chicago, Illinois or San Francisco, California."

"Mimi will probably honor Philip's wishes that his son and their children live in or visit New York, Chicago, or San Francisco so that they are exposed to the things and people that she and Philip held dear but there is no legally enforceable requirement for her to do so," said Wendy Witt, an attorney in Pennsylvania. Hoffman had lived with O'Donnell and their children in a Manhattan apartment on Jane Street however he was found dead in a Bethune Street apartment down the street in the West Village.

"In Hoffman's case, the direction suggesting that his son be raised near New York, Chicago, or San Francisco only applies if the child is raised by someone other than his mother," Witt told MainStreet.

Hoffman's 2004 testament also includes a trust for Cooper, the full principal of which he will inherit at 30 years old but did not mention his daughters Tallulah and Willa who were born in 2007 and 2009, respectively.

"Most Wills contain language that includes children born or adopted after the Will is executed, so any legally enforceable provisions would also apply to his girls," Witt said. "But because Philip's language about where his son is to be raised is advisory only, it won't apply to the daughters either."

Although Hoffman is survived by immediate family members, including a brother, two sisters and his mother Marilyn, O'Donnell is the sole named beneficiary.

"Mimi will be free to raise her children wherever she feels is best," said Witt. "She is the children's legal parent and has full legal authority to make general welfare, lifestyle, educational, medical and religious decisions on their behalf."

—Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet

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