Gandolfini had parlayed his acting success into a reported net worth of $70 million. Last December, he had the foresight to sign a new Last Will and Testament. Gandolfini also had created at least one trust -- and perhaps more -- as referenced in his will. While it would appear at first blush that Gandolfini did the proper estate planning, the recent revelation of his will (which you can read here) shows otherwise.
To put it bluntly, James Gandolfini's estate is a mess. Gandolfini failed to do the proper tax planning that would have enabled his estate to avoid -- or at least reduce and delay -- paying estate taxes. As reported by the New York Daily News, Gandolfini's planning failure subjects 80% of his estate (although, it is actually more than 80%) to the federal estate tax. At a rate of 40% for all assets over $5.25 million, that totals more than $20 million in federal estate taxes alone.