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Lessons learned from James Gandolfini's estate

As more information is released about late actor James Gandolfini's estate, people in Orlando and throughout Central Florida are learning about how to structure their estates so that heirs and beneficiaries can enjoy the most of what is left to them. The actor best known for playing Tony Soprano on the highly-acclaimed HBO series reportedly leaves behind an estate worth $70 million. 

While a large portion is being left to his children, the estate is reportedly subject to substantial taxes, many of which could reportedly have been avoided. This leads to considerable debate about how to avoid costly mistakes in estate planning, whether it could be tax avoidance or preventing disputes between beneficiaries.

According to a U.S. News.com report, the following tips can help.

Keep estate plans current - Updating your estate plan after every major life event (e.g. marriage, divorce, birth of a child) can help in ensuring that assets go to the right people.

Keep financial documents organized - Many people make the mistake of having financial documents scattered in many locations. This may prevent executors and beneficiaries from learning what may be eligble to be passed along.

Don't forget about taxes - There's a reason why the adage about death and taxes is so famous. Uncle Sam will get his cut of large estates, so diligent planning is helpful in maximizing your estate.

Avoid conflicts of interest - It may be tempting to appoint a family member to administer your estate, but it may be worth considering someone who only has a professional relationship with you (and your family) so that personal conflicts can be avoided.

Source: US News.com, Estate planning lessons from James Gandolfini, July 16, 2013

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