Regardless of the size of your estate, it is extremely important to have a comprehensive plan that protects your assets and prevents future probate and tax problems for your loved ones. Not having an up-to-date plan could ultimately be very costly for your heirs and beneficiaries. With these issues in mind, let's consider a couple of well-known individuals who might have done well to cover a few more bases in terms of estate planning.
Maryland residents who grew to love "The Sopranos" star James Gandolfini were saddened at his sudden demise. While Gandolfini did have the foresight to create a will, it appears that his plan was lacking in other areas. The actor put some money into a trust for his son, and his wife received the benefit of a spousal tax exemption on the estate. However, the bulk of Gandolfini's estate was unprotected from taxes because he lacked a proper trust, thus his estate was subject to roughly $30 million in federal and state taxes.
When Philip Seymour Hoffman died tragically at 46 years old, the actor left behind an estate estimated at $35 million. Like Gandolfini, Hoffman seems to have given only a passing nod to estate planning. The actor had a will that was drawn up and signed after the birth of his first son, but Hoffman neglected to update the document after his other two children were born. Not updating estate planning documents after major life changes can result in confusing and often contentious situations for heirs and beneficiaries.
If you have questions about planning your own estate, or if you have been chosen to represent an estate, then please visit our estate planning and probate website. Our firm helps individuals and families with a variety of legal matters related to the planning or the administration of an estate.