The world of entertainment lost an important figure recently when Sopranos star James Gandolfini passed away while vacationing in Italy. He was just 51 years of age at the time of his passing, and this may explain why his estate planning efforts were less than stellar.
Perhaps the actor thought that he would have time to plan out his estate in a more thoughtful manner at some point in the future.
Estate planning attorneys always advise people to take nothing for granted because we are all “day-to-day,” and this story serves as an example.
High-profile estate planning lawyer William Zabel has been quoted as saying that the will that was left behind by Gandolfini is a “disaster.”
Before we look at the financial ramifications, because he arranged for the transfer of assets through the utilization of a last will the probate process is a factor. Probate records are a matter of public record, so anyone and everyone can know all the details of the estate.
Many people would rather limit access to their personal choices. This can be done by arranging for asset transfers outside of probate.
After federal and state estate taxes are paid it is estimated that there will be about $40 million left out of a total $70 million estate. The federal estate tax carries a 40% maximum rate, and the New York state estate tax carries a 16% top rate.
Clearly, the family that Gandolfini has left behind will not be wanting for much. However, if a well constructed estate plan was in place millions of dollars could have potentially been preserved.
Author, President and Founding Attorney
Parman & Easterday
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