Actor James Gandolfini, who became famous as Tony Soprano in HBO's hit series The Sopranos died June 19 at the age of 51. Recently his 17 page will has been read and analyzed by estate planning attorneys on the internet. I found it very interesting for the following reasons:
1. I was very surprised to see it. The country is full of trust sales people. These are the attorneys and others that offer you a free seminar. Part of their pitch is that you must have a trust so that nobody will see your will. For probably all of the people at the seminars, that is just hot air. Who would want to read most of our wills since we are not famous or wealthy. It is very ironic that Mr. Gandolfini who was wealthy ($70 million +) and internationally famous chose to use a will which after his death was filed in a NY court where it was open to the public.
2. I would have hoped that Mr. Gandolfini would have protected his now 9 month old daughter from the sharks well beyond her 21st birthday. He left 20% of his estate to the baby girl to be held in trust until she is 21 years old. If it is worth $14 million now, it will hopefully, with a healthy economy be worth $42 million then. There will be many people trying to get that money away from that young lady in a little over twenty years. Though we cannot predict the future, it would likely have been better to have had that sum of money protected by sophisticated trustees well beyond his daughters 21st birthday. Having it protected for her entire life would be the safest.
3. Mr. Gandolfini did an excellent job of keeping his will updated. The will was signed on December 19, 2012, just a few months after his daughter was born. It would be great if we all were so diligent.
The will will work just fine for Mr. Gandolfini's family as it has worked well for millions over the years. It will work even better for most everyone in Fort Collins, because nobody will be interested in our wills. We should be as diligent as Mr. Gandolfini in keeping our wills updated. I would have liked to have had the opportunity to ask Mr. Gandolfini about his thoughts in leaving all that money to his baby daughter when she turns 21.