Many Americans presume estate planning is only for the elderly or ill. This presumption was proven wrong recently with the untimely death of James Gandolfini. The actor was famous for his role as head of the Soprano family on HBO's hit show. Mr. Gandolfini died unexpectedly in Rome at the age of 51.
Gandolfini's death serves as a reminder that everyone at every age should have an estate plan. In addition to having an estate plan, it is important to make sure it takes advantage of the legal tools available to better ensure your wishes are met. Some legal professionals are questioning whether Gandolfini's plan met his wishes, as it appears a large portion of his $70 million estate will go towards paying taxes.
There are various legal tools that can be utilized to help reduce the portion of assets that are needed to pay off the IRS. This can include the use of gifts, trusts and other ways of reducing the overall taxable estate.
James Gandolfini's unexpected death reminds us all that estate planning is an important way to help ensure our assets are divided according to our wishes. In order to help ensure this, it is important to update an estate plan on a regular basis, but particularly after major life events. This includes divorce, remarriage and the birth of children or grandchildren.
The tools used to make a balanced estate plan can be complexed. As a result, it is wise to contact an experienced estate planning attorney to help ensure a plan meets your needs.
Source: U.S. News, "Estate planning lessons from James Gandolfini," Kimberly Palmer, July 16, 2013