The Fashion Police co-host was estimated to be worth over $290 million dollars at the time of her death. Joan Rivers was not only a legendary
comedian and savvy business woman, in addition, news reports about instructions in her Trust point to a very detailed and well-planned estate. As expected, her daughter Melissa will inherit most of her Mother's fortune. This means that Melissa can focus on mourning the loss of her mother and not about the complexities of sorting a large estate or probate court.
Why is the Joan River's estate such a great example of estate planning? Keep reading to find out. Even if you do not have $290 million dollars you still need an estate plan to protect your family. Otherwise, you are allowing the government plan your estate.
Why is Estate Planning Important?
Incapacity. Estate planning has many advantages. One advantage is providing individuals with the power to plan for their own medical care and end of life decisions if they should become incapacitated.
Joan River's died on September 4, 2014, after a routine outpatient throat surgery that did not go well. During the surgery she stopped breathing and was placed on life support. Life support basically means that you are being kept alive by machines. Most of my clients do not want to be kept alive on life support if they were in an irreversible coma; however, unless they have the proper incapacity documents, such as an advance health care directive, the hospital will keep them alive on life support indefinitely.
Since Rivers had a solid estate plan with an advance health care directive, which stated her wish to not to be on life support, Melissa was able to respect her mother's wishes by removing her from it. This type of thoughtful planning can make a difficult and stressful time for loved ones easier to manage when unexpected situations occur.
Wills and Trusts. Another advantage of estate plans is the transfer of money, property and other belongings at your death according to your intent.
This can be accomplished by the use of a will, which is a legal document that states your intent as to how your estate is going to be distributed.
However,in California if you only have a will then your estate must go through a court process called Probate at the time of your death. Probate court in California takes anywhere from two years to thirty years. A trust is a legal document that bypasses the Probate court process in California, which offers the most protection for you and your family.
If you do not have a will or trust at the time of your death then your estate will pass by California's laws of intestacy. If you think you have not planned your estate you actually have because you are planning for the government to decide what happens to your estate.
Can You Include Pets in an Estate Plan?
Rivers, in her Trust, provided for her four pets at the time of her death, which will move from her Upper East Side Manhattan apartment to the home of her personal assistant. The River's estate is going to take care of and provide for the pets through distributions to the personal assistant. If you are like River's and have special furry friends that are part of the family you can provide for them after your death. You cannot simply name your pet as a beneficiary of your will or trust because pets cannot own property. However, the use of a pet trust within your trust document allows the trustee to distribute funds to a caretaker of the animals after you are gone.
If you need to get started on an estate plan then contact Coastal Pacific Law to help. Call our office at (619) 786-6563.