With actor James Gandolfini's sudden passing, it's unclear how the actor's estate might be handled. Still, the tragic loss of "Tony Soprano" serves as a somber reminder that life can be unpredictable and, in true Soprano spirit, that it's important to protect your family.
A crucial way to protect your loved ones is to revise your will when a significant event occurs in your life. Here are three important tips to keep in mind:
- Update your will before going on trips. Summer is here, and many of you may have upcoming trips to faraway places. Before you take off, make sure to revise your will. It may seem morbid, but travel can take an unexpected toll on your health. Gandolfini passed away from a heart attack he sustained while vacationing in Rome, reports Reuters. Protect your family by revising your will before you leave town.
- Revise your will to reflect family changes. Gandolfini had a son, a first wife whom he divorced, and a second wife with whom he had a daughter last year, reports Reuters. His changing family structure is a reminder to keep your will up-to-date when you divorce, remarry or welcome a new baby. There are laws in some states that give children some portion of your assets upon your death. However, not everyone wants their property to be distributed the way state laws specify. Also, stepchildren are not automatically entitled to inherit a share of your property in many states, so you should specify those wishes by changing your own will.
- Appoint a guardian, just in case. In the unfortunate event that you become unable to raise your children, you should establish guardianship for your children with someone you trust. The best way to do this is to spell it out in your will. When you have a new baby in the family, make sure to update your guardianship arrangements.
If you need more information on how to revise your will, it could be helpful to consult with a local wills attorney to get more specific rules about your jurisdiction. Another option is to sign up for a prepaid legal plan that includes an attorney-drafted will and annual updates; plans offered by LegalStreet, for example, start at less than $13 a month and also include on-call access to local lawyers who can answer many types of legal questions.
Disclosure: LegalStreet and FindLaw.com are owned by the same company.
- Hospital official: James Gandolfini probably died of a heart attack (CNN)
- Amy Winehouse's Will: Ex-Husband Blake Fielder-Civil Left Out (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice)
- The Michael Jackson Will: Father Gets No Inheritance (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice)
- 5 Things You Must Do After Writing Your Will (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)