Last month many in the entertainment world were shocked and saddened by the sudden death of New Yorker James Gandolfini at the age of 51. His passing from an apparent heart attack is a somber reminder that none of us know for sure what the future holds.
This week reports were released discussing some of the estate details. Gandolfini's will was made public and filed with a court in Manhattan. Wills are public documents when filed with the court. The only way to keep these matters private is by using trusts and other devices which transfer property automatically without the need to go through the probate process--Gandolfini did make some arrangements outside of the will that are not known publicly.
A look into the late actor's estate planning documents reminds that the basics of transferring assets after a passing are similar for everyone, from regular community members to the rich and famous.
All told, Gandolfini's estate may be worth nearly $70 million. That is broken up into a range of assets. As with most, the majority of his wealth will pass on to his children. A CNN analysis of the will suggests that his 14-year old son was the named beneficiary of a $7 million life insurance policy. That policy was held in trust and set up in his name. In addition, the trust may purchase a condominium that Gandolfini owned in Greenwich Village.
Gandolfini's current wife will receive most of the tangible property in the estate, though she will not benefit from any other major provision in the will. The document states that other arrangements were made for the wife, outside of the will.
In addition, Gandolfini owned property in Italy. That will be split between the 14-year old son and Gandolfini's second child, an 8-month old girl. The property will be held in trust until the younger child reaches the age of 25. Interestingly, Gandolfini used the will to offer his advice about for the property. The actor wrote, "It is my hope and desire that they will continue to own said property and keep it in our family for as long as possible."
The will lays out specific provisions for several others that he wanted to recognize, including his nieces, two assistants, his godson, and family friends.
These estate planning details from Gandolfini should be used as a general reminder of the many different options available when crafting your long-term wishes. If you haven't made arrangement yet, there is no benefit to waiting. Act now and ensure your family will be protected no matter what.