Joan Rivers’ Unusual Estate Planning Strategy

Comedienne Joan Rivers, who died in September at age 81, had an unusual estate planning strategy.

Her will indicates she sought to reduce her tax burden by claiming residency in one state and being based in another.

Her will, according to a story on, stated that Rivers is a resident of New York, but declares her state of domicile — the place where she intends to reside indefinitely on a permanent basis – is California.

It said that the laws of California will apply if she were domiciled in California when she died.

The declaration may make a difference with respect to estate taxes, the story says.

New York and California have high income taxes, but New York still has an estate tax of 16 percent, the story says.

The decision may be left to state tax authorities who look at voter and vehicle registrations, driver’s licenses, and other factors to determine where a person is based.

If you have questions about estate planning, feel free to call us for a consultation at (626) 696-3145.

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