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Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died of a drug overdose earlier this year at the age of 46, reportedly did not leave any of his substantial estate to his children, electing instead to leave everything to his longtime girlfriend and mother of his three children. 

According to news reports, Hoffman had been encouraged to establish a trust fund to provide for his children in the event of his death, but had repeatedly declined, saying that he did not want them to become “trust fund kids.” The actor said that the children’s mother would provide for them, and left her approximately $35 million with which to do so.

Although the two were not legally married, news outlets report that their relationship was one resembling marriage in most regards, including parenting and joint financial accounts.

These “marriage-like” arrangements have become commonplace, both among celebrities and private citizens, but they can raise some tricky legal issues when one spouse passes away or becomes ill — especially if there are children involved. Therefore, it is a good idea for unmarried couples to consult with an estate planning lawyer to learn about the options that are available to protect their families’ long-term interests.

The laws affecting estate planning and parental rights vary widely from one state to the next, so California readers should be sure to talk to a lawyer who is licensed and knowledgeable of the relevant laws in this state. He or she can talk with clients about their circumstances and work with them to create an estate plan that will ensure their wishes are carried out to the greatest degree possible.

Source: New York Daily News, “Philip Seymour Hoffman did not want his children to become ‘trust fund kids’: attorney,” Barbara Ross,  July 21, 2014