james-gandolfini-funeral_headerThe words “irrevocable trust” often seem intimidating to many of my clients.  However, when used properly, this can be an effective estate planning tool.   If designed properly, it can prevent an estate from staying tied up in probate for years.  It can help families understand exactly what the deceased actually intended with his or her estate.  In many cases, it can prevent the estate from being taxed inappropriately.

While I was working on this article, I came across an news article involving recently deceased actor, James Gandolfini.  He was known for his lead role in the TV series, “The Sopranos”.  Mr. Gandolfini had an extremely successful career with his worth at the time of his death valued at $70 million.  His estate will continue to bring in money from his residuals as a result of his performances. Mr. Gandolfini created a Last Will and Testament.  He left everything to his family.  It appears that he believed had completed his affairs  accordingly.  Read more about James Gandolfini’s estate problems here.

One of the great things about an irrevocable trust is that it can be held privately.  A Will is a public document.  Once Mr. Gandolfini’s will was read, it became public and everyone knew what the other person was to receive.  That left it wide open to will contest as well as anyone who may have a good faith belief that the actor owed them money.  In addition, most of the estate became subject to IRS taxes that could exceed 55% of his estate!!!!!

Admittedly, most of the people in the world do not have the type of money that James Gandolfini had when he died.  However, the amount of your estate is not necessarily what is important.  When you are gone, you want to be sure that your possessions are distributed the way YOU designated them.  You want to be sure that your loved ones are taken care of the way YOU planned it.  A little planning can go a long way to making sure that your personal effects do not get taxed unnecessarily or stay tied up for years in court.

To get started on your estate planning, contact us.  We can advise you on the best course of action for your specific situation.  Nobody likes to think about planning for their death – but after it’s done, you can relax and know that you have taken care of your children or loved ones!