Learning From Celebrities – Estate Planning Mistakes

Learning From Celebrities – Estate Planning Mistakes

Celebrities are constantly demonstrating what not to do for estate planning.  Estate planning can be tricky and for celebrities with mega assets the stakes for heirs are enormous.


James Gandolfini’s estate is an example that we can learn from.  Fans of his Tony Soprano character will remember the sudden end to “The Sopranos,” the groundbreaking HBO series. In the middle of a tense scene in a diner, propelled by Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” the screen went black. Just like that, the series was done.

Just as suddenly, Gandolfini left the world stage when he died of a heart attack after a day touring Rome last June. He left an indelible impression and a pile of money that even a Mobster would envy.

His estate was worth an estimated $70 million. He had his will drafted earlier but only signed it 6 months before he died. You may be thinking, what problem can there be if he had a will? The problem was the lack of expert planning.

Because Gandolfini had a basic will without a trust, his beneficiaries were made public.  A trust would ensure privacy so that no one knew who was getting what.  For example, in the case of former Beatle John Lennon’s estate, no one knows who got what because he had set up a carefully constructed trust.

The other point is that Gandolfini drafted his will soon after his daughter’s birth, which is commendable. But she gets her entire inheritance at age 21.

Think of yourself at 21. Now add several million dollars. Not a pretty picture.

At what age heirs should receive their inheritance is an issue for estates of any size, but few people plan for it. Attorneys and advisors all too often see the impact of sudden wealth on younger people. It is similar to how lottery winners burn their good fortune into ashes of regret soon after the big money is spent.

Celebrities are constantly demonstrating what not to do for estate planning.  We can learn from their blunders by taking the time to consult a professional and write a proper will with expert advice.

If you have any questions about your estate planning, please call me and we can ensure that you have the right advice.