Oftent, people think those who have a great deal of assets must have all of their estate planning ducks in a row. However, the death of Soprano’s star James Gandolfini showed that not everyone has taken the necessary steps to ensure that a comprehensive estate plan is in place. Because Gandolfini had a will, the details of his estate plan were made public. Anyone in Michigan who has yet to make an estate plan may be able to learn from his reported mistakes.

One mistake Gandolfini reportedly made was that he never truly finished the estate-planning process. He started to make plans when his daughter was born. However, after his death, his will did not include property he owned. He may have started to plan his estate and fate of his assets, but he had never finished prior to dying suddenly.

The estate of Gandolfini was worth between $70 million and $80 million. It was reported that he had left his daughter a large sum of assets to be given to her when she turned 21. The assets were not put in a trust, meaning the assets go through the probate process, and the amounts will be publicly known. Also, she will simply receive the assets without any stipulations, unlike those that can be added to a trust.

Anyone in Michigan who has put off devising an estate plan may want to reconsider and realize that tragedy can strike at any time and at any age, as was the case with James Gandolfini. There are a wide range of documents and options for anyone of any income level. Regardless of income bracket or the amount of an estate, having a comprehensive estate plan in place is recommended. Revising that plan as needed can help families enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that loved ones will be cared for and assets will be given to whom they wish.

Source: Forbes, “Estate Planning Lessons From James Gandolfini And Other Celebrity Legacies“, Danielle and Andy Mayoras, Aug. 6, 2014

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