As we reported last month, actor James Gandolfini — best known as “Tony” from HBO’s The Sopranos — died from a heart attack at age 51.
Now,the heirs to his $70 million estate are dealing with his will, which is a “disaster.” Over $30 million of the estate could go to the government, according to a top lawyer.
“It’s a nightmare from a tax standpoint,” said William Zabel, a top estate lawyer who has represented Howard Stern and billionaire George Soros.
The “big mistake” made by Gandolfini? Leaving 80 percent of his estate to his sisters and his 9-month-old daughter. That decision made 80 percent of his entire estate subject to “death taxes” (yes, there is such a thing) and the bill is due in nine months.
Most of the actor’s millions were not in cash — therefore, his family will have to start selling his properties and liquidating assets to pay the enormous tax. “The government doesn’t accept the fact that it’s difficult to come up with the money you owe,” said Zabel. “They can get an extension of time to pay the entire amount, but they’re going to have pay a substantial amount in nine months.”
The other 20 percent of Gandolfini’s estate was left to his wife, Deborah Lin. Although this portion of the estate will not be directly subject to the death tax, it will still take a big hit.
The shares will be divided up after taxes are paid. This means that Lin will get 20 percent of the $40 million left after taxes (rather than 20 percent of $70 million). “It’s a catastrophe,” Zabel said.
Although Gandolfini’s net worth is estimated at around $70 million, its exact size is not known. An inventory of the late actor’s assets does not need to be filed until the end of this year.
It is also unknown if money made from the actor’s work on The Sopranos will go into the estate or to his wife separately. It will be subject to the death tax as well, if it does go into the estate.
Gandolfini’s family has a long year ahead of them dealing with this mess.
As for me, I find it ridiculous that we tax people even after they die. Good grief. A death tax? Really?