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Celebrity Legacies TV Show Premieres With James Gandolfini

We all know about the estates of Michael Jackson and Anna Nicole Smith, right?  But what about Elizabeth Taylor, John Lennon, Marilyn Monroe, Heath Ledger, Elvis Presley, and John F. Kennedy, Jr.?  Last week, the Reelz Channel premiered a new television series called Celebrity Legacies.   James Gandolfini Sopranos

The documentary series explores a different celebrity each week, discussing their legacies, estates, and what they left behind: Feuding heirs? Mounting debt?  Or a golden legacy glittered with fame and fortune? 

The premiere episode delved into James Gandolfini.  The late Soprano’s star died shockingly in 2013, leaving behind two young children — from two different marriages — and an estate plan that was, well, not exactly perfect.

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James Gandolfini's Estate Planning Mess

James Gandolfini, who won three Emmy awards portraying mob-boss Tony Soprano for eight years on HBO’s The Sopranos, died on June 19th.  That day, he was touring Rome with his 13-year old son, Michael, when he suffered the sudden and fatal heart attack.  James-gandolfini

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.

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