Yes there are cats and dogs out there with more money than you.
This summer it was reported in the New York Post, USA Today and other news outlets that a Bronx widow, Ellen Frey-Wouter, left her cats, Tiger and Troy, $300,000.00 of her $3 million estate. The cats were left in the care of two of her former home health aides. The rest of her fortune was divided between those home health aides, charities and her lawyer. It was stated that the cats were like her babies.
This is a recent example of a probate including an animal beneficiary, but it may be more common than you think. There are numerous rich pets. One of the wealthiest is Gunther, the German Shepherd of German countess, Carlotta Liebenstein, who has a net worth estimated at more than $370 million. An Italian real estate mogul, Maria Assunta, left her cat Tommaso a fine sum of $13 million. Not bad for a cat that was a stray in the alleys of Rome until being taken in by Assunta. Another probate estate that included a fur baby was of hotel owner, Leona Helmsley, that was to bequeath $12 million to her Maltese, Trouble.
If you are a pet owner living in Florida who is concerned about the future of their pets after they have passed, the Florida Statutes provide the following:
736.0408 Trust for care of an animal.— (1) A trust may be created to provide for the care of an animal alive during the settlor’s lifetime. The trust terminates on the death of the animal or, if the trust was created to provide for the care of more than one animal alive during the settlor’s lifetime, on the death of the last surviving animal.
(2) A trust authorized by this section may be enforced by a person appointed in the terms of the trust or, if no person is appointed, by a person appointed by the court. A person having an interest in the welfare of the animal may request the court to appoint a person to enforce the trust or to remove a person appointed.
(3) Property of a trust authorized by this section may be applied only to the intended use of the property, except to the extent the court determines that the value of the trust property exceeds the amount required for the intended use. Except as otherwise provided in the terms of the trust, property not required for the intended use must be distributed to the settlor, if then living, otherwise as part of the settlor’s estate.
You may not have millions or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to leave for the care of your beloved pets, but you can be sure that they are not forgotten or mistreated if they are included in your will or trust.