Joan Rivers Leaves a Legacy and a Lesson About Estate Planning
News reports about instructions Joan Rivers added to her will point to an extremely detailed and meticulously prepared estate plan. This means her daughter, Melissa Rivers, can focus on coping with her grief and loss rather than worrying about the complexities of sorting out a very large estate. Melissa is expected to inherit the majority of her mother’s fortune, estimated at close to $290 million.
Joan Rivers died on Sept. 4, from complications after a routine outpatient throat surgery. Joan stopped breathing during the procedure and was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support. Her daughter Melissa made the difficult decision to take her mother off life support, probably with the authority of a “living will’ or advance medical directive created by her mother as part of her estate planning documents. This type of thoughtful planning can make a difficult and stressful time for loved ones a little easier to handle.
If Joan Rivers kept her Manhattan condominium in her name, the taxable basis for her heirs would be market value. The Upper East Side luxury apartment could be valued as high as $30 million. If Joan transferred the property to a revocable trust, Melissa may be able to avoid any risk of issues during the probate process. It’s important to consider all the angles when making decisions about how your property will be passed on to your family – the right structure can make a big difference.
Joan left behind both instructions for caring for her dogs, as well as the funds needed to provide that care. The person Joan designated to take care of her beloved pets will not have to worry about the expense of providing the level of care Joan wanted them to have. This level of detailed planning takes the guess work out of the equation for family members who will be grateful to have clear direction about your wishes.
Joan Rivers was more than a legendary comedian, she was also a smart business woman who built a great fortune over her lifetime. She has left a great legacy to her family that goes beyond the money she accumulated – she has left them the gift of clarity and simplicity in dealing with her estate, thanks to careful advance planning.