When James Galdolfini died in June 2013 at the age of 51, his Will quickly became public knowledge and many articles were written blasting it for poor tax planning. Gandolfini’s Will provided the following:
• All jewelry and clothing to his son Michael Gandolfini.
• All other personal property to his wife, Deborah Lin
• $200,000 to his assistant, Trixie Flynn
• $50,000 to his friend, Fatima Bae
• $500,000 to his niece, Laura Antonacci
• $500,000 to his niece, Jenna Antonacci
• $100,000 to his god-son, Robert Parish
• $200,000 to his friend, Thomas Richardson
• $50,000 to his friend, Doug Katz
• A home and land in Italy, 50% to his son Michael Gandolfini and 50% to his daughter Liliana Gandolfini. This gift was to be held in a trust until both his children reached the age of 25.
• The remainder of his estate to be divided 60% to his 2 sisters, 20% to his wife Deborah Lin, and 20% to his daughter Liliana Gandolfini
Although no one knows for sure, some estimate that Gandolfini’s estate exceeded $70 million, putting his estate tax bill at more than $30 million. Based on the Will alone, it does appear that Gandolfini received poor estate planning advice when constructing his will. However, many assets do not pass through the will, such as retirement plans, insurance policies, and irrevocable trusts. It is highly probable that Gandolfini used other devices such as these to pass his property to his loved ones in a more tax efficient manner. Another possibility is that Gandolfini simply did not care about estate taxes. As is often the case with blended families (Deborah Lin was wife #2), he may have cared more about distributing the assets fairly than minimizing tax.
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