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James Gandolfini's estate could take months to settle

We hear a lot about actors and musicians who die without a will or make poor estate planning choices. It's refreshing then to learn of an actor who seemingly had a comprehensive estate plan which accounted for his family, friends and heirs.

Fans of the HBO hit show "Sopranos" were recently saddened to learn of the death of the actor who so keenly portrayed the show's main character Tony Soprano. In real life, family members and friends remember James Gandolfini as a kind and generous man and loving father. At the time of his death from a sudden heart attack, the 51-year-old actor was also extremely wealther and worth an estimated $70 million.

Prior to his death, it appears as though Gandolfini took the appropriate steps to set up an estate plan. The actor had two children, a 13-year-old son and an 8-month-old daughter, to whom he left the majority of his assets. The assets, which include a sprawling Italian estate and Greenwich Village condo, will be held in a trust until his children reach adulthood.

In addition to the assets bequeathed to his children, Gandolfini also left considerable amounts of money to his current wife as well as his two sisters. Also mentioned in the actor's will are a godson, two nieces, a secretary and several friends. The actor also made sure to clearly state that custody of his two children should go to his sisters in the event the children's' mothers also die or become incapacitated.

By all appearances it seems as though Gandolfini was one actor who sought and received solid estate planning advice and guidance. Even with a valid will, however, family members, business associates and friends could potentially contest the will. In the coming months, executors of the will, will comb over documents to determine all of the late actor's assets. This process could be lengthy and may allow time for individuals to contest the will or attempt to dispute how the will is interpreted.

Source: New York Post, “James Gandolfini leaves bulk of $70M estate to his two children,” Julia Marsh, Jeane Macintosh and Kate Sheehy, July 3, 2013

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