James Gandolfini's Passing Makes Plenty for the IRS

James Gandolfini was a beloved actor in Hollywood, most notably for his lead role as Tony Soprano in the popular gangster series, "The Sopranos," on HBO. The event of his sudden death over this past summer from a heart attack affords us the opportunity to glean lessons from his estate planning, or as many suggest, lack thereof.

A plethora of articles has been written detailing the ways in which Mr. Gandolfini could have done much better - estate planning wise. We borrow here from some of their analysis as well explain some simple estate tax avoidance strategies to prevent the IRS from taking your hard-earned money after you pass. While many people avoid planning their estate or drafting a will because of some existential anxiety, this should be a wake-up call.

Upon viewing his estate plan, it seems that neither Mr. Gandolfini nor his financial advisors anticipated his sudden and tragic untimely passing. Perhaps, his will was a rushed disposition to protect his year-old daughter while still providing for his sisters and new wife. I say this because as the estate stands and before Mr. Gandolfini's heirs receive any money, the IRS will have taken nearly half. Forbes reports that the IRS and state tax collectors will likely get $30 million off the top of Gandolfini's $70 million probate estate. Unfortunately for his heirs, much of these taxes could have been easily avoided by consulting with an informed estate-planning attorney.