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New Jersey readers could learn Gandolfini estate planning lesson

When it comes to planning for the future, estate planning is one of the most important areas for New Jersey residents to consider. Ensuring that property, assets, valuables and other important items are secured for the future can help individuals be sure that their family will not be left under financial strain and complications. Recently, the death of famed actor James Gandolfini has raised awareness of the importance of estate planning and updating, and having a solid outline established.

According to one recent report, Gandolfini made some crucial mistakes in the planning process. Gandolfini left behind approximately $70 million in his estate. Unfortunately, state and federal taxes will take over $30 million of it. The attorney who reviewed the actor's will said it was a "disaster." One of the reasons for this may have been because Gandolfini did not regularly update his estate plan.

As an individual's situation changes, it is important to update the plan and find the right vehicles for assets and valuable property. One example is to use irrevocable trusts, which do not incur gift taxes. Another vehicle is a marital trust, which allows spouses to transfer unlimited amounts of money to one another without taxes. Additionally, in the event of death of one spouse, the assets are placed in the trust to cover the living expenses of the surviving spouse. Other potential vehicles include offshore trusts, life insurance trusts.

Because wills are considered public record, many people can access the information contained within hours of an individual's death. As Gandolfini's death illustrates, this can cause a great amount of discussion and conflict. To avoid the public scrutiny and complications of loved ones taking public information to heart, it is recommended by some sources to consider revocable trusts, which are not filed in the probate court. With so many options for estate planning, and so many considerations, New Jersey residents may feel overwhelmed. Fortunately, through the right avenues of support, the estate planning process can be eased and successful.

Source: fa-mag.com, "Learning From Gandolfini's Estate Plan 'Disaster'," Anthony Greco, July 19, 2013

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