James Gandolfini, the actor renowned for his role as Tony Soprano in the HBO television program “The Sopranos,” died at the age of 51 in June after suffering a heart attack in Italy. He left behind an estate estimated to be worth about $70 million, as well as a last will and testament that was recently submitted to a Manhattan Surrogate’s Court.
The details of the will show that while Mr. Gandolfini did take some appropriate estate planning steps, he didn’t do as much as he should have. In fact, experts who have reviewed his will say that it did almost nothing to avoid estate taxes, and could actually end up costing his children and his wife millions.
Gandolfini left the majority of his estate to his teenage son, infant daughter, as well as his wife. He also left gifts to each of his nieces, his sisters, a personal assistant, some friends, and his godson.
Because Gandolfini‘s children are young, he created a testamentary trust that would own the inheritance he left them until they are old enough to manage the property themselves.
While the testamentary trust was a good addition, Gandolfini apparently took no steps to try to protect the inheritances he left behind from the federal estate tax. Because the size of his estate is well over the $5.25 million estate tax exemption limit, the $70 million he left behind means that his estate will likely have to pay about $30 million in estate taxes.