There was an article in the NY Times this week about James Gandolfini and his will. Essentially the article spoke to the decisions he made in regards to tax planning around his assets.
I remember when we first sat around a large conference table setting up wills for me and Fred. The first time you sit down and begin talking to accountants and lawyers about this kind of stuff it is strange and off-putting. What goes through your head is why am I planning for my death. Now that I have been through this more than a few times I am incredibly comfortable with it. I was actually quite comfortable with it after our first meetings around this topic a long time ago because I understood the value and importance of what we were doing.
After that first meeting I began to quiz our friends about their wills and what have they set up. I was amazed at how many of them had not planned for it. How can you not plan for this when you have children? It doesn't matter how much you have but to leave a financial mess for your kids, which hopefully will be very old adults when you die, it is just not the right thing to do. You want to make sure that they won't have to sell anything or take money from their own pocket to pay taxes upon your death. You also want to leave them as much as possible.
I got to spend a lot of time with Josh this past week as we spent most of Friday at the Hospital for Special Surgery having a new doctor look at his wrist. A very smart move. He started to ask me a bunch of questions that the girls had asked roughly around the same age as him about how we have set up things. To understand at a young age the importance of trusts, wills, legal documents, mortgages, investments, etc is a blessing because he won't be as weirded out as I was the first time we started to talk about estate planning. If anything, they all have the utmost respect about how thoughtful we have been.
I hope that Gandolfini planned better than they assume in the article, especially for his family. It is hard enough to lose someone you love at any point of time but when they did not take responsibility for the next generation and in turn leave them with a mess, it can make for anger vs grieving and there is absolutely no excuse to not plan accordingly.