What we can learn from the death of ‘Tony Soprano’

Tony Soprano James Gandolfini

James Gandolfini died on June 19th at the age of 51. He is survived by a wife and two children. Most of us know him as “Tony Soprano” from the hit TV Series on HBO called The Sopranos. Upon his untimely death, we have access to some of his estate planning documents. A Hollywood Star like Gandolfini, who is worth tens of millions of dollars, must have all his estate plans in place and carefully crafted…right?


There are an ubandance of question marks around the estate plan created by Gandolfini’s attorneys. Forbes recently published this article which identifies 6 things we can all learn from James Gandolfini’s death. I agree with 5 of them. These are the things we discussed on today’s show in detail. Check out the Mr Credit Radio show podcast here: 

Highlights from the show…

#1 – If you go to probate, your entire Will becomes public record. Every single word. See James Gandolfini’s Will by clicking here. Privacy is key in these situations. Just one look at his Will and you’ll see why. In order to ensure that as much as possible, you need a Revocable Living Trust.

#2 – Use a Revocable Living Trust. Funny thing is, the character Tony Soprano got a revocable living trust on the show in Season 4 when his wife pressured him to get his estate in order. Unfortunately, James Gandolfini did have a trust, but also had a poorly constructed plan that included a Will, which was created after his living trust. Truly mind-boggling. You need a living trust as the commander of your estate plan and what we call a “pour-over” Will. Essentially a catch-all for any of your assets that aren’t funded into the Trust. These items could still go through the probate process, but will only point to your Living Trust, therefore keeping everything private except for what those assets are, but nothing about to whom they are going and in what quantity. To create a Living Trust, call my trust attorney Jarod Cauzza at 619.238.1712 and mention “Mr Credit” for a free consultation.

#3 – You must think about tax planning FIRST. If you think about it last, it will be too late. The most important thing you can do to protect what you have worked hard to achieve is to plan in a way that keeps the IRS grubby hands from your heirs rightful inheritance. For tax planning in San Diego, call Jeffrey Kahn at 866.494.6829.

#4 – When gifting money, consider all the different ways to do so. Just creating a Will and saying “here you go” can cause major tax bombs to get dropped. Especially if you’re gifting any foreign assets or accounts. Be very careful with these. Consider an irrevocable life insurance trust.

#5 – Carefully consider the age of your children when giving them large sums of money. James Gandolfini has his daughter, who is just a child, set to receive a large sum of money at age 21. Remember, with a revocable living trust, you can be creative with how you give assets to your heirs. You do NOT have to do it all at once! It could be a monthly amount, or set off by different ages, or prevented by drug testing or achievements in school. You can maintain all the same control over the money as if you were alive. It just takes a little planning.

#6 – Foreign assets and property are treated differently. It requires a unique approach in each instance on how you can best plan for foreign property. Be very careful and plan as much as possible for any foreign assets you might own. The penalties for non-disclosure or non-compliance are ENORMOUS.

Bottom line: This doesn’t have to be you. Be smarter than everyone else. Follow The Life Plan.


Categories: Boston Marathon Tragedy, Estate Planning, Financial Planning, Law, Radio Shows, Tax Resolution, The IRS, The Life Plan

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