Saturday, July 20, 2013

Much Ado About Gandolfini’s Will

All the criticism of James Gandolfini's will misses the point, according to Roger Haber, the lawyer who drafted the will: A will is not an estate plan. If Gandolfini's net worth was $70 million, his will controlled no more than a seventh of his total wealth.

“People don’t get it. There is no tax problem here. There is no planning problem here. This [will] is a minor piece of the estate planning.”

Some of the criticism does suggest that estate planners lack contact with the real world. Why would heirs want to delay or renounce their inheritances in order to achieve a theoretically optimum long-term tax result?  Somebody who already has several million may be willing, but few people occupy that wealth bracket.

Nevertheless, as Paul Sullivan's column indicates, nits can be picked.  For instance, inheritance restrictions on foreign real estate and provisions for young heirs might have needed more attention. 

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