There are lessons to be learned from many sources in life, one of which can be the “rich and famous.”
Today’s lesson is simple: If you want to keep some things private, do a trust. If you only do a will, a will is a public document.
James Gandolini (Tony Soprano) had only a will for a majority of his 70 million estate. In addition to making his estate plan accessible to the public, his failure to have a trust exposed 80% of his estate to the Estate tax. Not a good plan.
Of course, wills are important too. Amy Winehouse didn’t have a Will, so her $6.7 million went to her parents, which is what the law dictated. Did she want all of her assets to go to her parents? What about her brother? What about a charity? We will never know. Without a Will, the law of the State where you live decides the distribution of any asset that isn’t jointly owned, doesn’t have a beneficiary designation, or isn’t in a trust.
These are only a couple of examples of the unexpected things that can happen to us. As always, if you have questions about these or similar matters you should consult your estate planning attorney.