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Actor Gandolfini's heirs face $30 million tax bill

When people reach the end of their lives, they typically want their family members and loved ones to receive as many financial benefits as possible. Through effective estate planning, people in New Jersey can work to ensure that beneficiaries’ inheritances aren’t consumed by taxes. In some cases, the total estate tax bill can reach tens of millions of dollars.

When a person leaves financial assets to his or her spouse, the inheritance is not taxed until the spouse dies. Unfortunately, The Sopranos star James Gandolfini may have been unaware of this fact. He left only 20 percent of his assets to his surviving spouse, leaving the other beneficiaries, his sisters and daughters, with a significant tax bill. Gandolfini’s reasons for leaving only 20 percent of his assets with his wife are unknown.

The total value of Gandolfini’s estate is unknown, but more than $30 million of his assets will be paid in taxes. His family members are likely to struggle to pay the large tax bill, and they may have to sell some of his assets to come up with the money. If Gandolfini had given some of his wealth to a charity, his family wouldn’t be faced with such an immense tax burden. Before his death, the actor apparently neglected to set up trusts, which would have protected some of his assets from taxation.

None of Gandolfini’s family members have commented on the situation. It is likely that they are grateful that the actor chose to leave his financial assets to them; however, this case presents some estate planning lessons that everyone can learn from. Working with an experienced attorney can help you avoid costly estate planning mistakes.

Source: Main Street, “Estate Planning Lessons from James Gandolfini’s Grave,” Juliette Fairley, August 13, 2013

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