Go to navigation Go to content
Toll-Free: (888) 927-6955
Phone: (770) 487-8999
Law Offices of Shane Smith

Contact Us

Get help now! Please fill out the quick contact form below for a fast and free case consultation. We will contact you within 24 hours!

What We Can Learn from Celebrity Estate Errors

Although no one ever expects to die when they’re young, it happens all of the time. When such sad events happen, you often discover that proper estate planning never took place. That’s
 what apparently happened to actor James Gandolfini who played the lead character, Tony Soprano, on the popular cable TV series, “The Sopranos.”                                                                    As successful as he was, you’d think Gandolfini’s attorneys would have carefully crafted a comprehensive estate plan for him. Unfortunately, it looks like someone didn’t follow through. Instead, a rather large portion of the actor’s estate may have to be used to pay off taxes that might have been lawfully avoided with better estate planning.

            Sadly, other big stars have also made mistakes.                    

One of Michael Jackson’s Various Estate Problems                                                                           While Michael Jackson was clever enough to hire professional trustees and named a non- relative to manage his funds, he still failed to properly handle certain properties like the rights to all of the Beatles’ songs.  Had he placed them in a trust account shortly after purchasing them, that would have “frozen” their value and greatly minimized future taxes. All of this information is set forth in an interesting MSN.com article entitled, Estate Planning Lessons from Tony Soprano.” Here are a few added points made in that article that may prove useful to others.

Ways to Properly Set Up Your Estate Plan

  • Meet with your lawyer regularly throughout your life, constantly updating your estate plan so that your family won’t suffer the type of tax debts that the Gandolfini one will probably have to face;
  • Consolidate different savings or banking accounts in keeping with your Peachtree estate planning attorney’s advice. It can be very hard for a trustee to properly locate all of your estate assets when you’ve got them tucked away in numerous accounts all over the U.S. and possibly even in foreign countries;
  • Place expensive properties in a trust at an early date. This can keep them from being appraised at much higher values for tax purposes when they’re later sold.  This was noted in the MSN.com article referenced above in regards to how Michael Jackson should have placed his rights to the Beatles music in a trust when he first bought them;
  • Make sure your current estate plan properly lists all family members you want to inherit from you – and carefully note any people you’re leaving out of your will, along with a brief statement as to why you’ve made this choice so they’ll have a harder time trying to contest your will at a later date;
  • Always name guardians who have already told you that they’re willing to raise your children should you die unexpectedly. Periodically check with these individuals to be sure their feelings haven’t changed. If they have, immediately redraft your will to name the new guardian, plus at least one backup individual who will serve if the first person named should decide against serving in this capacity.

To obtain help with satisfying all of your Georgia estate planning needs, please contact the Law Offices of Shane Smith today.  You can schedule your free initial consultation with a knowledgeable Peachtree City estate planning attorney by calling: (770) 487-8999.


Shane Smith
Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia