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Estate planning tips from the stars

It's probably true that most celebrities have larger or more complex estates than many residents in Nevada. However, you don't have to be wealthy or have a complex estate to learn from the mistakes of celebrities when it comes to estate planning.

Consider actor James Gandolfini, for example. Gandolfini originally had a will written when his daughter was born, according to reports, but it was a Band-Aid measure that was mean to be solidified later. Because there wasn't a trust in place, the family's affairs were made public, which is something most people don't want during a time of grief. Additionally, the Gandolfini estate didn't include plans for younger heirs or consider the actor's many properties and assets. Because of this, his children may inherit large sums before they are ready, and his estate was hit with large taxes.

Some things anyone can learn from the Gandolfini estate include the importance of planning and the importance of replanning. According to reports, Gandolfini, who was only 51 years old, started the planning process but left on vacation prior to finishing it. When he died suddenly, his estate was not fully in order. It's never too early to begin planning for your estate, and once you start the process, it's a good idea to push through it.

If you start early in life with estate planning, then you should review information in the plan on a regular basis. If Gandolfini had lived a longer life, it's likely he would have continued to prosper as an actor. In the future, he might have needed to change his estate plans to account for that prosperity, for example.

Understanding your needs now, as well as your potential future needs, is the first step in estate planning. Though the task may seem unpleasant, putting it off could result in much more unpleasant issues.

Source: Forbes, "Estate Planning Lessons From James Gandolfini And Other Celebrity Legacies" Danielle and Andy Mayoras, Aug. 06, 2014

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