James Gandolfini’s Will – A Case Study In What Not To Do

On TV he played a ruthless mobster pursued by the Feds. But in real life actor James Gandolfini was a generous soul. Indeed he may even have endeared himself to the IRS as his will is revealed as an example of how not to settle your affairs, according to the experts.

Gandolfini’s will was written in a way that astute estate planners say skipped many options for minimizing his tax bill.

One example: Gandolfini left just under 20 percent of his assets to his wife, with the rest going to his sisters and infant daughter. (He made “other provisions” for his son Michael from a previous marriage, the will says.)

Federal tax laws allow for unlimited tax free transfers to spouses, but taxes are applied to most other bequests in estates over $5.25 million. Gandolfini only took limited advantage of that provision, so close to 80 percent of the assets covered by the will could now be subject to state and federal taxes that together can reach a rate of 55 percent.

More at CNBC.com: Gandolfini’s will a case study on what not to do