James Gandolfini, the American actor best known for his role as Tony in the hit series The Sopranos, died less than a year ago, but sadly, he may wind up most remembered for something other than his award-winning acting career.
Instead, he might be remembered for leaving behind his $70 million estate with no estate plan in place.
Consider the results, and what they mean for advisors and their clients:
- The whole world has access to his estate information because the estate will go through probate, which becomes public information.
- He left behind a 14-year-old son and a six-month-old daughter without updating any of his legal documents. Instead, everything was left to another child, based on previous estate planning directives, likely done long before his younger children were born.
Why do transfers of family estates fail? Because the heirs fight over issues that they consider to be unfair. They are left all too often advocating for their position based on emotion, fighting over out-of-date documentation and one-time conversations about what mom or dad wanted.
To avoid these situations, talk to your clients about putting their wishes for their estate in writing. Having legal documents in place ahead of time will help to ensure harmony in your clients' families for the next generation.
- Review "Nine Important Estate Planning Steps" with your clients.
- Use the "What You Need Your Survivors to Know" checklist as a starting point for clients and their heirs to help them understand what they will be dealing with at these critical moments.