Considering Gandolfini’s Will

Last June, “Sopranos” actor James Gandolfini died of a heart attack at the age of 51. Shortly after his death, Gandolfini’s will became public. Since then, experts have considered the wisdom of the provisions in his will. As a recent article explains, experts believe that Galdolfini’s will was so poorly drafted that it may invite lawsuits from his heirs.

James Gandolfini
James Gandolfini (Photo credit: gdcgraphics)

Experts are quick to point out what they believe to be poor tax planning in the will. An estimated $30 million of Gandolfini’s $70 million estate will be paid out in estate taxes. This large tax bill could have been reduced through the utilization of trust accounts, as well as other estate planning maneuvers that would have transferred a larger amount of his assets outside of probate.

Gandolfini could have also kept more of his estate plan private via the use of a revocable trust. Revocable trusts are not only easy to set up, but are also typically inexpensive as well. Many people choose to couple a revocable trust with a “pour over will,” which simply pours all will assets into the revocable trust.

Another flaw in Gandolfini’s will is that it divides his assets via percentages between his wife, sisters, and daughter. Although seemingly fair, this is problematic because while his wife’s percentage will transfer free of tax, the other percentages will not. It therefore takes a difficult calculation to determine how his wife’s distribution will influence the remaining funds.

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