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Learning an Important Lesson from James Gandolfini

Often when a celebrity dies unexpectedly the public becomes interested in their estate either because it’s extremely large, there is some sort of squabble over the assets, or there is no estate plan at all. In the case of James Gandolfini, the latter is definitely not the case.

Unfortunately the world lost a very talented individual when James Gandolfini passed away on June 19, 2013 at the age of 51, while vacationing in Rome, Italy. The beloved actor and star of The Sopranos was a father of two (eight-month-old daughter, Liliana, and 13-year-old son, Michael) and a husband.

James Gandolfini is a good example of being well-prepared for the unthinkable. After the birth of his daughter, Liliana, in October 2012 he had the good sense to update his estate plan on December 19, 2012. Depending on what was stated in his prior will (assuming he had previously executed one), had Gandolfini not updated his estate plan before he died, then his daughter may have been disinherited and his wishes may not have been honored.

His will was filed July 3, 2013 in

The majority of Gandolfini’s estate, which is estimated at about $70 million, is going to his son Michael. Michael, who is a minor, will have his share held in trust until he reaches age 21. In addition to inheriting his father’s jewelry, Michael will have the first option to purchase his father’s Greenwich Village apartment at fair market value. Michael and his half-sister, Liliana, will ultimately split an interest in Gandolfini’s home in Italy.

In addition to providing for his children, Gandolfini also provided for his wife, several relatives, his personal assistant, Godson, and friends.

Despite concerns some have about the estate tax consequences that may occur as a result of his will, by updating his estate plan after the birth of his daughter, Gandolfini was able to ensure that his wishes will be honored. As an estate planner I always recommend planning for the unthinkable. One crucial step you must take when planning for the unthinkable is to update your estate plan after a major life event occurs, just like James Gandolfini.

More to come on the James Gandolfini Estate Tax Debacle

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