Some of our Michigan readers are probably interested in avoiding probate litigation as a primary goal of estate planning. There are many ways to avoid litigation, whether the issue is a will contest based on the validity of a will, or arguments among relatives about the distribution of assets. Some wills even include specific clauses that could penalize anyone who challenges the will. However, another good way to avoid litigation may not seem so obvious at first: make sure everyone gets at least something.
That appears to have been part of the wishes behind acclaimed actor James Gandolfini's estate plan. Many of our readers are probably familiar with Gandolfini from his well-known role in the incredibly popular HBO series "The Sopranos." He was also in a number of films, most recently including the Brad Pitt sleeper hit "Killing Them Softly." Gandolfini sadly passed away recently at the too-young age of 51. However, in his years of Hollywood success it appears that he amassed quite a fortune, reportedly valued at approximately $70 million.
This type of estate usually takes quite a bit of extensive planning in order to ensure that all of the potential loose ends are tied up. Fortunately for Gandolfini's family and friends, it appears that he had given a lot of thought to his estate plan well before it was actually needed. Reports indicate that he designated property distribution from those closest to him, like his son and daughter, all the way to his secretary and personal assistant. It appears that he included everyone he thought he needed to.
Leaving a bequest to someone who has had an impact in a person's life can be heartwarming, in a way saying in a final form that the person was loved and important. Taking care of these types of details can go a long way toward ensuring that no one is displeased with the result of an estate plan.
Source: USA Today, "James Gandolfini leaves $70 million estate," Ann Oldenburg, July 3, 2013